In Training

July 26, 2010 -

John Heald

I’m writing this on a train. Yep……….I am on a train….and they’ve just announced that we’ve had to stop near some cows because the train in front of us has broken down. I should have known ….it’s a train operated by Virgin………which means of course it was never going to go all the way.

So, good morning everyone and I hope you missed me as much as I missed you and before I forget  …….thanks for allowing me that week off….it was simply marvelous. So why am I on a train? Well, that’s because I am heading to Liverpool, home of the Beatles and tomorrow it will be home to the Queen Victoria, more of which I will write about later. I was going to drive to Liverpool from my home in Essex, but it’s a 4 hour drive.

It has been a long time since I did a proper journey on a train and I was therefore surprised by the sheer number of announcements they make during the journey. As a CD I understand the need to make a few but bloody hell………they are nonstop………….unlike the train itself which hasn’t moved now for 20 minutes. Most of the announcements are safety oriented and as I have seen on the ships in recent times and as I have noted in everyday life………..the men and women in high visibility jackets will one day…………..rule the world. Honestly……think about how many times that you and your family are told what to do and what not to do by the powers that be.

Yesterday for example I read “Keep away from fire” on the label on the T-shirt that I was putting over Kye’s head. We have a little park near where we live. It has swings and a play area and would be a beautiful spot if it wasn’t for all the bloody safety signs.

“Don’t let your dog foul”………….foul……….what is this?…….are we living in Dickensian times ……….who the heck uses the word “foul” apart from the Queen and NBA refs…usually on the Miami Heat players………the bastards.? Why not write “don’t let your dog crap here” or at least draw a picture of a dog with a load of poo coming out of it’s arse…………I bet that would get the message across much better than the world “foul.”

“This bin is for litter only”………really…………so I can’t wash my underpants in there? “No parking. Gate in 24-hour use” and are you ready for this….. 10 “No smoking” signs. This in my mind is bullying………….really it is………I have been treated as if I don’t know how to control my dog, my children, my car or my urge to smoke a big old Cuban cigar in a children’s playground.

Later that day some wooden blocks that I had ordered on the Internet for Kye arrived. The packaging reminded me not to suffocate myself. I did a quick survey and nearly all the plastic bags in our house warn of suffocation and two raise the grim possibility of baby strangulation. One has no warning at all, which seems brazen. I could, after all, sue.

Later that day I put Kye into her Silver Cross stroller. There are six warnings stitched into the safety strap, one threatening death, one questioning the wisdom of jogging…….they obviously don’t know me very well. Yep……..these signs are everywhere. This afternoon I embarked the train at Euston Station which is station is covered with signs:

“Please use formal pedestrian crossing facilities”………….bugger……………formal……….I am not wearing a tie and my underpants have a few holes in them……………where the heck is the non-formal crossing.

“Cycle thieves operating in this area”

“Do not trespass”

“Danger of death”

“Mind your head”

“Have you paid?”

“Slippery when wet”…………..a familiar one to all of us who cruise!

As I sit here on the train I am surrounded by signs.

“Increased threat to your security” (this is a permanent sign, so are we to assume that the threat is permanently increasing?).  Then there’s a list of things only total idiots wouldn’t do “to help” such as keeping your personal items with you at all times, reporting anything suspicious.

There’s a four-step guide to using the passenger alarm, exclamation signs on the automatic door reading “Automatic door,” CCTV threats (they’re in operation and being monitored), patronising stickers pointing out that first-class accommodation is for first-class ticket holders only, and the most depressing sign of all: “Please give up these seats if required by disabled or pregnant passengers.” As if we’re just going to stand by as a one legged blind and heavily pregnant woman hops around trying to find a seat.

Oh here we go……we have started moving again and as I write the robotic computer voice is telling the passengers over the PA system declarations that CCTV is in operation and is complemented by security patrols and exactly what might happen if I leave my bag lying around (explosives were involved). There are six do’s and don’ts for using the escalator (including “Hold handrail” and “Carry dog”) and one sign on a locked door advising “Danger of death, low voltage, danger 4,400 volts.”

Reading all these signs creates paranoia in the Rudd family.  His wife Harriet looks at me mistrustfully. I look at Freddie suspiciously. He narrows his eyes at the pigeons.  Listen, I know we are on the same train so to speak at Carnival as we relay safety announcements intended to provide you with a safer and happier vacation. But the world has gone mad…….and top of the barking mad tree are the signs I saw at Starbucks before I boarded the train to Liverpool.

My favourites were “Careful: the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot.” And “To protect the quality of the coffee, we ask you not to smoke.” And what of the train…….well Virgin operates a brilliant airline but I am afraid that their trains leave a lot to be desired. The “on-board shop” smells like a Frenchman’s arm pit and I just bought a bottle of tepid Evian water and a Ryan Air type sandwich that cost me a total of $14.

My seat is close to the toilets which mean I have been receiving intermittent blasts of someone’s freshly evacuated bowel and I could feed every passenger on the Carnival Splendor with discarded bits of sandwich and sticky, spilt coffee down the side of my seat. The toilets still whiff, meaning that, as usual, I get off walking oddly because I can’t bring myself to use them, and I could feed a small country with the discarded bits of sandwich and sticky, spilt coffee down the side of my seat.

Bloody hell……..the toilets really do smell bad which means that I will get the train walking like John Wayne……….because I can’t bring myself to use them……..oh and in the seat opposite me is a man sit directly opposite the who has the world’s most grotesquely encrusted nose and has been digging for gold ever since we left for London.

I need a shower, I need a piss and I need to get on with some Q and A to take my mind off where the green lumps he is pulling out of his nose are actually going…………….let’s crack on.

Barbara Schrader Asked:
John, (please reply)

We will be sailing on the Dream August 14th and can’t wait. This will be our 7th CCL cruise plus a few more back from the Old Days of the Mardi Gras…my how cruising has changed.

Here is my question. I would love to do something special for my husband while on board but I am at a loss. Here is our situation. We will be travelling with our family 2 cabins booked and in our cabin my beautiful daughter Jen will be with us. Jen is a “special gal” (she’s 21) and we never go ANY where with out her. In turn we have never enjoyed a quiet dinner alone, an island tour, etc, as we always worry about Jen. We have our younger daughter with us Amandalyn (she 20) and she does a great job with her sister BUT you know no one can do as good as a Mom. I was going to make a reservation @ Art’s Steakhouse but was worried that if Jen is having a bad night we wouldn’t he able to go. Then I saw Chef’s Table and th
ought WOW that would be amazing BUT once again said “what if Jen had a bad day’?

We never do something for ourselves with thinking of the impact it would have on Jen.

So John any ideas? Is it possible to have a wonderful dinner served in your cabin on the balcony? Just want to show a little extra love to my husband without leaving Jen. A lot of husband and dads with special needs children are not involved with the children and the marriage often ends in divorce BUT my mine, John is amazing and the best dad on the planet. He is and wonderful husband and father to both of our girls!

What do you think or do you have any ideas?

Looking forward to our next high sea adventure,

Sincerely,
Barbara Schrader

John Says:
Hello Barbara Schrader

Indeed, how cruising has changed and nothing will prove that more than your forthcoming voyage on your Carnival Dream. I am sure you and the family are getting very excited about your cruise and I can understand your concerns with Jen. Unfortunately we don’t serve anything except our room service menu in the state rooms but I would like to say this. Why not book a meal at the Steakhouse. You and your husband deserve it immensely and if you are concerned about Jen then we will provide you with a ship’s phone similar to the ones we give parents who leave younger children at Camp Carnival. Then if Amandalyn is worried about Jen she can call you and you can come straight down. What do you think about that idea? If you would like me to arrange this for you please send me a post marked SAILING AGUST 14TH TIME SENSITIVE and I will make sure we arrange this for you.

Please also send me your cabin number as well. You all deserve the very best vacation and a cruise on your Carnival Dream will provide exactly that.

Best wishes to all
John

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please reply.

This is in response to a question from Jessica Knight on July 4th about getting her stateroom decorated for her husband’s birthday. When I sailed on the Carnival Splendor (which by the way is a beautiful ship) I asked my room steward how a passenger could get a room decorated. I told her that I would be sailing with my sister-in-law in May and I wanted it done for her since her birthday was on our embarkation day as well. The room steward told me that if I go online and order the decorations from the Carnival Bon Voyage Gifts and Services website then the room would be decorated when we arrived, which it was, but if I ordered it after I boarded then the room would be done while we were at dinner. I have included the link to the Bon Voyage website.

http://www.carnival.com/BonVoyage/Default.aspx

John I do have to say that to see my sister-in-laws expression when she opened her door was priceless, the room looked fantastic and the staff did a wonderful job.

Please give my love to Heidi and Kye

From your #1 bloggy thingy fan
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

This is very interesting and it is obvious that I need to clarify with Carol at Bon Voyage what the score is here as it isn’t very clear. I am sure your sister was so thankful to you for organizing that special surprise. I hope I see you later this year.

Best wishes
John

David Sonderberg Asked:

Table reservation needed

I will be on the cruise of Saturday August 22nd on the Legend and want to have a table for two. We are on the late time dining and are in cabin 2421. Please note that I am a Cruise Critic online member and a regular Carnival cruiser.

David Sonderberg

John Says:
Hello David

I will send your dining request to the Maitre D on the Carnival Legend. He will do his best to assist you with this request.

Have a brilliant cruise

Best wishes
John

Mydestiny!! Asked:
Hi john! (PLEASE REPLY)

First off, let me say… if you ever open a carnival corporate office in Chicago, please let me be the first to send you my application and resume. You see, I have recommended carnival cruises to many (and I do mean many) of my friends, family, co-worker, random people I speak to at the check-out line, etc. They often ask me if I actually do work for carnival!!

I always wanted to go on a cruise, so last year for summer vacation my friend and I booked a cruise on the carnival liberty. And I’ve never been the same since!

I convinced my mom, sister, and aunt to go on a cruise this summer vacation. They finally agreed (probably just so I can stop annoying them). I booked us on the carnival destiny and then I soon wrote to you about my concerns about the ship (in your entry “hey Jude”; I will copy and paste my original question at the end of this).

Anyways, I was wondering if it would be possible to please, please, get a table for 4 for the 6:00 dining. We leave on august 19th. I will leave you our info at the end of this post, but please don’t make it public, as I watch too many dateline/csi-type of shows.

Thank you so much! I read your blog every day! I am soooooo excited for this cruise and am very confident that my family will fall in love as well….. and then we can book a cruise where you are the cd!!!

John Says:
Hello My Destiny

It is a joy to read how excited you are about your cruise and of course I must say a huge thank you for sharing your excitement with other family members who are now going to experience a fun for all Carnival cruise as well. You really should think about becoming a travel agent. I will be happy to get you a table especially as you said please which when I am asked for things like this…………….doesn’t always happen. Have a fantastic time all together and please write and tell me all about it when you get home.

Best wishes
John

Janet Westrich Asked:
Hi John, (Please Reply)

We just got back from an Alaskan cruise and had a great time! I had to write to tell you how much we enjoyed our CD “Stu”!! He was hilarious! His humor really added a lot to our cruise. We are also booked for the Magic for 9/2011 and am looking forward to you being our CD again! I agree with the lady above that having some historical information on the ports in Europe would be great. Also when we were with you on the Baltic cruise, we suggested maybe having a class where we could learn some conversational phrases in the language of the ports we are going to. Some handouts of these phrases, etc. would be good to bring with us in port. I have 2 more questions for you:

1. Do you have any information on the Carnival Breeze coming out in 2012?

2. Is Carnival planning on putting the Comfort Series mattresses on all ships? The mattress we had on the Spirit for our Alaskan cruise was pretty uncomfortable.

Thanks so much John!
Janet

John Says:
Hello Janet Westrich

Now that is great to hear and thanks so much for taking the time to write. Stuart Dunn is a great CD and he will be thrilled to read how much you enjoyed him. I was disappointed though that the mattress was uncomfortable. Usually we get rave reviews on our Carnival Comfort Beds which indeed are already on the Carnival Spirit. Maybe it needs changing and I wondered therefore if you have the time to write to me again with the cabin number you
stayed in so we can have this checked out.

There is no new news on Carnival Breeze yet but when I hear anything I will let you know. You will soon be with me in Europe and I promise that I will have as much information as I can ready for you during my time as CD on your Carnival Magic and as before we will have the maps and everything ready for you. Soon I will be writing about the brilliant excursions we will offer as well. Tell you what……….just to get you excited why don’t we have a look at some of Radu’s photos of Barcelona………..your Carnival Magic’s homeport. These are of Gaudi’s stunning cathedral Segrada Fimilia and the huge fruit and meat market which can be found on Las Rambles.

I am looking forward to telling you more and to seeing you on your Carnival Magic.

Best wishes
John

Carla Asked:
John – please reply if you can

Thanks so much for all the you do to keep all of us so well informed about the world of Carnival Cruises. My husband and I have so enjoyed all of our Carnival cruises and are doing our best to get to Platinum. In August we are booked on the Elation to celebrate our 25 wedding anniversary. Would there be any way that you could request a table for two in early dining for us? We would really appreciate any assistance that you can give us. I hope that you and your lovely family have a great cruise on board the New Amsterdam and that you enjoy the remainder of your vacation. It must be hard to be away from them while you work, but I’m sure it makes your time together even more special!

Thanks again!
Carla

John Says:
Hello Carla

Thanks for the kind words about the blog, I am happy you enjoy it. I will be happy to ask for a table for you so you can enjoy some romantic times on your 25th anniversary cruise. It was nice that you included some please and thanks you’s in your request as sometimes when I am asked to reserve tables that doesn’t always happen!

Have a fantastic cruise

Best wishes to you both
John

Shenika Asked:
Dear John, (Please Reply)

I always love seeing pictures of the Carnival Victory! She was the ship that started my cruising addiction 4 years ago on a trip from Norfolk to the Bahamas. The only other ship I’ve been on so far is the Carnival Freedom but still the Carnival Victory is my favorite. The atrium is beautiful and I just love the shades of blue and green throughout the ship. I love the whole ocean theme especially the promenade area by the coffee bar.

I thought about applying for your position as a spy for the somethingorother of the seas but I’m not sure I fit your requirements. Also the thought of taking a cruise with them knowing that I could have taken a 2 Carnival Cruises for the price of one of their cruises makes me physically ill. While I’m sure they have a fine product, I just can’t justify spending the money when I can enjoy a similar vacation for less.

Anyway I do actually have another random question. I am sailing on my Carnival Dream on December 11, 2010 to celebrate my birthday. Like many others the winter holiday season is my favorite time of year and I was wondering will the ship be decorated for Christmas on my sailing?

I know you are enjoying your time at home with your girls. I hope you do continue to share your stories from your adventures at home with us here on the blog. Even your everyday life is entertaining!

All the best to you, Heidi and Kye,
Shenika

John Says:
Hello Shenika

If you ask many of the people that read this blog thingy they will also say that their first cruise was their best. It is the one that sets the standards and gets people excited to do more. And as in many other things in life, doing something for the first time is often the most memorable…………. although the first time I kissed Sally Pool with tongue wasn’t too memorable as she vomited.

I really think we should employ a whole network of spies to sail on the other lines but then again ……….there are not too many things they do better than us. Yes indeed, all our ships are usually decorated by December 1. It’s getting earlier and earlier and by 2015 we may as well leave them up all year round. Seriously, the ship will look very festive and Christmassy indeed and even though your Carnival Victory cruise is your current favourite…….I think your Carnival Dream cruise may take top spot.

Please let me know if you need anything before you sail and thanks so much for the kind words. Not all postings contain kind words like please and thank you.

Best wishes to you and your family
John

Carrie Duwelius Asked:
Dear Kye (Please reply)

Keep writing on your Daddy’s blog…we love hearing from you! Since you mentioned having to listen to really silly music in the car, I thought I would ask….Did you receive the special CD I sent you with your name in the music? I sent it about a month ago to the address listed on the Blog Thingy, and I just want to make sure it arrived. If not, I would love to send another so that you can make your daddy listen to your kind of music sometimes;) Please ask him to let me know via the blog or email if you received it and if not, is there a better address to send a replacement too? You write very well for a girl that just turned one year old, LOL! Keep it up:)

John Says:
Hello Carrie Duwelius

Hold on…………….have a look at this.

As you can see she loves the CD as do Heidi and I. Hearing her name in the songs was …. well………quite emotional for Heidi and I. Kye’s favourite (spelt correctly) is “With Two” and she bounces around to that one everyday. Is this your company that does this?…………………. www.MyNameMusic.com …..if so then let me give it a huge plug here on the blog thingy ……….. it is fantastic and a thank you card from Kye is on it’s way to you. Thanks so much once again for your kindness on behalf of my Daughter Kye who would write to you herself but she is too busy watching that sodding purple dinosaur again.

Best wishes
John

Krysti Farrell Asked:
Hello John:

I must say I have been reading some of these blogs, and you are quite the hoot! =-] My name is Krysti Farrel and I am Jan Thames’s (Cruise For Less in Mt. Pleasant, SC) daughter. I am about to embark on my (technically second) but (seemingly first) c
ruise on the Carnival Fantasy on Aug. 14th. 7 glorious days to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and the Bahamas. Our first one was on 11/13/08 (roughly-lol) for a four day cruise from Miami to Cozumel. Well we rented some scooters while there with my brother and his wife, myself and my husband and they had 3 children and myself 1. All having a child in tow, we zipped on to some of the back streets where renters of other motorized vehicles (buggys, bikes, etc) also were riding. We found a beach and loved it for about 3 glorious hours. Knowing we had the children on the back, we did not partake in any alcohol drinking while there….well most of us anyway. My brother’s wife kept doing the solo shots and when we left there she ended up wiping out, injuring herself pretty bad, and luckily her son had only minor scrapes and bruises but she totalled that scooter! We were in the middle of NOWHERE and stuck until some police showed up 2 hours later (leaving an hour to get back to ship mind you) with ak-47′s a dangling. My then 16 year old daughter and the other children we terrified! If my husband wasn’t so fluent in Spanish I don’t know what we’d have done. We finally, an hour later, got them to let us go and we were 45 minutes from the place we rented from. The ambulance took his wife to goodness knows where with her son and we were late. Anyway we barely made it back on the ship and she was NOT there!! They had her in the ER somewhere and would not let her leave until we came up with 1500!! So we all emptied our pockets and were broke for the ride home, she made the boat so late to leave, that the whole ride home was so bumpy it made us all sick and it was because we were so behind schedule they couldn’t use the stabilizers. ANYWAY….I am marrying my husband’s best friend in Charleston the morning of the day we leave! Then the whole wedding party is ocean bound! I am in E219 and the newlyweds cabin is E201. In essence this is like our honeymoon all over again as well. My mother thought I should ask you of fun (NON MOTORIZED-lol) things to do while there. Maybe let me know a little about the Fantasy and the cruise destinations we are going to. I don’t want to miss a single thing. =-] I want to make this the most special cruise for my husband and I (Krysti & Tim Farrell), and his newly wed best friends (Paul and Vera Whipple). This is also the second time in two years we are leaving my 2 year old with Mimi and Poppa (going to miss him terribly) and I want to make sure we get the very most out of this vacation and make life long memories and bonds that will last until we book our next one. 😉 Look forward to reading your reply and am counting the days until August. Happy Fourth of July to you and your wonderful family!

John Says:
Hello Krysti Farrell

Well what I should do is send this brilliantly written posting to all the Cruise Directors and have them read it out as the poster for why not to rent mopeds and why we recommend so highly that our guests take organized excursions through the ship where medical attention and support is immediately available and where certainly you will not be asked to pay $1,500 just to see a doctor.

I am sure it was a very scary time for your sister and indeed for you all and let us hope that this coming cruise is one full of only happy and fun memories for you. Please make sure you read your Fun Times activity program everyday and may I recommend that you go along to the Cruise Director’s travel and information talks so that your CD Risa can give you her top tips on what to do in the three ports. I will also ask her to send the newly weds a little something and something for you as well.

Have a relaxing and fun time and thank you mostly for reminding all of us about the perils of moped hire and the dangers of mixing any kind of rented mechanized transport with alcohol.

Best wishes to you all
John

Juan & Maria Santana Asked:
John please reply….

We are still waiting for a reply to those couple of comments we sent you sometime at the end of May-early June, but this is just to tell you that we loved Kye’s blog…. We laughed like crazy while we were reading her comments! Kye’s writing skills, her humor, her attitude, her intelligence, and last but not least, her beauty and very important – her sincerity…. she calls the things as they are…. no meeting around the bushes….passing gas is a “f….” loud and clear…. a cheap bastard, likewise, etc., She has inherited all the plus traits – her beauty and brains from her Mom and the “almost x-rated traits from Dad! She is amazing. We don’t hardly wait to see her in person!

Best wishes for a Happy 4th of July for you and yours!
The Santanas of Miami Bach

John Says:
Hello Juan and Maria Santana

I am sure you have seen my reply to your recent posts by know and sorry again for the delay as I am now somewhat far behind. I am glad you liked Kye’s first blog, maybe I can persuade her to write again soon. I am doing my best to bring her up the right way although Heidi seems to have a different “right way” than I do. I hope you are both well and hope to see you on a ship very soon.

Best wishes
John

James Bowen Asked:

We will be sailing July 26, 2010 on the Destiny, booking number 18lc07-cabin 6128. Could you please inform the MaitreD that we would like a booth to ourselves? My wife and I will be celebrating our 40th anniversary and will be bringing 3 grandchildren. Thank you.

John Says:
Hello James Bowen

I am so glad I saw this in today’s Q and A as you are sailing this Monday. I have informed the Maitre D by e-mail on my raspberry from the train and asked him to help you with your request. I appreciate you saying please and thank you as you won’t believe this but sometimes when I am asked for table requests I won’t get any.

Have a brilliant cruise

Best wishes to all
John

Justin Asked:
John – Please Reply

Hey john this is Justin, the wanna be cruise director. My dad and I are booking a cruise on the Carnival Magic July 3rd 2011. I was wondering if you are gonna be our cruise director? I’m pretty sure you are. That’s awesome if you are!

John Says:
Hello Justin

Yes indeed, I will be there with you and thanks so much to you and Dad for booking your European adventure on your Carnival Magic. Maybe we can have a chat about your future.

Until then I send you and your Dad my best wishes.
John

John b Asked:
Please respond!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John, love the blog what a great way to come home after work and laugh my a@@ off each day, Thank you for that. I have 5 cruise under my belt with Carnival and every one has been awesome!!!! My daughter just finished 9 years of collage and graduated with her doctorate, so i’m taking her on the Glory on 7/26/10. Could you help me in getting anytime dining, at booking it was a wait list… my booking is 87t7d6 and cabin # is 8395, I just want to make it a special trip for her. It’s a father /daughter trip… thanks for the help and keep up the great blog.

ps say hello the girls!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Says:
Hello John B

And that is great to hear……..thanks for saying how much you and your bottom enjoy my blog thingy. You must be so very proud of your daughter and please send her many congratulations from all of us on her brilliant achievement. I have sent your request to the Maitre D and I know he will do his very best to assist you with your dining request. I will also be sending her a little congratulations gift as well.

Have a fantastic cruise

Best wishes to you both
John

Wendy Asked:
John, Please Reply:

Hi John,

I’ve been waiting and waiting for the Carnival Spirit’s schedule to come out for 2011. We have a group that has been doing the Thanksgiving cruise for the last three years. We all met via Cruise Critic and we call ourselves the Spirit Dawgs. Our group gets bigger each year. We think you should defect from the Splendor and come with us for Thanksgiving. There are some very loyal CCL cruisers in the Dawg Pound, 4 Milestone cruisers and 8 Platinum at present count. Stuart was at our private party last year, he’ll tell you how much fun we are.

Anyway, finally the schedule came out and people are very excited about the new 15 day round trip to Hawaii itinerary. But, there is no schedule from a 3 day CTN September 20, 2011 until a 15 day to Hawaii out of Los Angeles on Dec 2, 2011. The Dawg Pound wants to start planning for Thanksgiving 2011. Do you think you can find out what is up?

Thanks in advance for your help, and consider my idea!

John Says:
Hello Wendy

I love the names that the Cruise Critic groups come up with and the “Dawgs” is another fun one. I will certainly check on this for you and will post the answer as soon as I get it. I don’t see any information on a Thanksgiving cruise so let me check with my friend and Senior Vice President Terry on this and see if there is anything information I can tell you. The 15-day round trip looks fantastic and I hear it is booking very well indeed. Anyway, let me check for you and until then my best wishes to you and all the “Dawgs.”

Woof!
John

Michael Smith Asked:
Hello John,

Let me start by saying I am absolutely not looking for anything free here, just a Straight answer and a little common sense. I am not a travel agent but a big fan of Carnival Cruise Lines. Recently I got the bright idea to organize a cruise for my daughters dance troupe with the hope we could get a large enough group together that the girls would be allowed to dance on the ship. We succeeded and have so far booked 80 cabins on the Ecstasy in October. We were also graciously invited to dance on the Blue Sapphire stage. This will be a once and a life time opportunity for the girls so we cannot wait.

My problem is a small one (I think). I have one cabin in which the guest booked an early saver using his middle name. I have been given different answers by each PVP each time I call as to whether his middle name will be sufficient, but all have agreed that as long as his middle name was listed somewhere on his documents then he would be OK to cruise. Today I called and was told that he would need to change it to his first name and would be charged $50.00 to do so. After I told the PVP what I had previously been told, he simply replied that he cannot say he would be guaranteed boarding when the time comes. Now obviously, I need a guarantee here.

It seems to me that Carnival would look and see that I have 255 passengers and $105,000.00 in revenue booked and could assist me with little hassle in straightening out this one error.

Please help and your reply is appreciated.

Sincerely,
Mike

John Says:
Hello Mike

I have hosted many dance groups on our ships in my time as CD and I can tell you that the look on the faces of your girls will be priceless when they walk out on that huge stage to perform.

Please don’t worry, I am positive that I can get this sorted for you and will send this to our Vice President Vicky who will see what needs to be done to get this taken care of. If you have any other concerns please let me know.

Best wishes and have a brilliant time
John

Lynda Ulrich Asked:
Dear John (please reply),

As you know, if you remember, that we will be on the September 19th cruise on the Carnival Splendor with you. I have a couple of questions.

I know your girls will be on the Carnival Splendor with you some of the time. Will they still be on that cruise?

Also, September 26th will be my husband’s 60th birthday. We were on the Carnival Elation for our 40th anniversary and I asked you to surprise my husband with a little something. Well, Steve said something on his live show but that was it. Good thing we were watching. Could you please send Bob a Happy Birthday note? I know it’s the day we get off the ship, but it would mean a lot to me that I get to surprise him. If this is okay I will send you our cabin # about a month before.

Can’t wait to cruise with you on the Carnival Splendor. Have a great vacation with your girls.

See you in September. Wasn’t that a hit song?

Sincerely,
Lynda

John Says:
Hello Lynda Ulrich

At this point in time I am not sure when the girls will be sailing with me as I will explain later in the blog. Please make sure you leave me a personal birthday wish for your husband at the Guest Services Desk and I will read it out on my morning show and send him a little something as well.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes to you both.
John

CruisinSue Asked:
Hi John, (Please Reply)

It has been a while since I have written and I hope you are totally enjoying your time with the girls. I know they are happy to have da da home.

I do have a question…Has Lenny H. left Carnival Cruise Lines? He was the CD on my first cruise way back on the Mardi Gras and then I saw him again on the Carnival Victory last August. I introduced myself to him and talked to him about an incident that happened on the Mardi Gras and believe it or not, he remembered!! At first I thought yea right, but he then gave some details that one would have known only by being there. He is a great person and CD. I just noticed he is not on the CD schedule after June.

To reply to Platinum cruiser and the VIP check in…I have been on 47 Carnival cruises, of course have the VIP check in. I have sailed out of every port on the east and west coast, gulf, Vancouver and Italy. I have never stood in the cattle lines with everyone else. In fact, if it is busy in the terminal, the check in staff has escorted us to the front of the line. If she truly has VIP check in, she needs to make sure it is on her “Fun Pass” and point it out to the greeter at the port. They will take care of her properly.

Also, one last comment. Kudos to the reservation department once again. I am booked on the Carnival Miracle on October 18, with my blogger friends Don and Carolyn. I was notified by the “Upgrade fairy” of available upgrades. (For a fee of course) I, of course, did take the upgrades because it truly was a minimal amount.

Thank you for being here for us and mostly thank you to Heidi and Kye for giving up so much of you to us. I have booked the BC4, so I will see you then, if not before!!! Hugs to the girls.

Gloria aka Sue

John Says:
Hello CruisinSue

Yes, I am sorry to say that Lenny Haliday has indeed retired after twenty years of service. As I wrote a few weeks ago he left in the middle of his last cruise due to the sudden and sad passing of his father. We will miss Lenny very much.

Thanks for the reply on the Platinum check in. I should actually point out that the after checking with the blogger who had written that she had never received VIP check in, we discovered that she was not yet a Platinum member and had not therefore achieved the VIP status. It is though very important that if at anytime any of Platinum members have any concerns that they let me know so I can take care of them.

I will be talking more about this in a moment.  I miss Don and Carolyn very much, they have been so wonderful to Kye and we are hoping to see them soon as we are you on BC4….it wouldn’t be the same without you.

Best wishes
John

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John,

I never saw a reply to my post to you, so I am sending it a second time.

Please Reply,

First< I w
ant to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the beautiful picture and other goodies you had delivered to my family and I by Jeff Brooooston (who is also a great CD). I was unaware that Jeff’s son was born a week after Kye (It may be a match made in heaven, since he is adorable too). Then for the first time on any of my cruises I finally got to meet a Maitre’D (on the other cruises the Maitre’D never introduced themselves) and he goes by the name of “007”. He gave us a nice table in a quiet location and I think he gave us the best waiter in the whole dining room (table 301, I would like for the bearded ones to know about him, but I forgot his name). The waiter and my brother really had a great time telling jokes back and forth. My brother did say that the waiters and waitresses seemed to enjoy their jobs and the passengers more on Carnival then Princess and Norwegian Cruise Lines did. I will tell you John. My brother is now hooked on Carnival, in fact, we are planning a cruise to Alaska, then my brother and sister-in-law are going to do renewal of

Vows on a cruise to Hawaii, which will take place in 2012.

The Carnival Paradise is a beautiful ship and so is her crew. I will say that Early Sign In makes embarkation a breeze. I checked in at 10:30a.m. And was onboard by 11:15a.m. And headed for the Lido Deck, in fact we got there before the festivities had even started. This does make me wonder about one thing though, do you announce to the crew when the new passengers are starting to board. I just seems to me that it can prepare the crew for the new influx of passengers. Now back to my review, John, I have to let you know how wonderful my room steward was (I forgot his name, but my cabin was #E259). Whenever I needed something, I got it right away and since the Carnival Paradise does not have refrigerators in the cabins, he kept my ice container full for me, never once did I have to ask or remind him to fill it. (Could you also let the bearded ones know about him as well)?

John, the one thing that my brother kept talking about “how CLEAN” the Carnival Paradise is and how” well maintained” she is for her age. I can honestly say that Carnival has taken a NCL regular into a Carnival devotee, because since he got home he cancelled the two cruises with NCL and booked them with Carnival. After he told me this, I reminded him of our bet, and that was he would like Carnival so much that he would book with them within a week of getting off the ship and I WON!!!!!

Again, I want to THANK YOU for the wonderful gifts that you gave to myself and to my family.

Please send my love to Heidi and Kye.

From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

I don’t think I saw this posting until now so thanks for resending it. Yes, Jeff and his lovely wife had a beautiful son a week after Kye was born. I think with all the excitement of my daughter arriving I probably forgot to tell everyone about Brooooonson junior.

What a brilliant review and how fantastic that two NCL fans have become firm Carnival lovers now and please would you tell them how grateful we are. The crew of the Carnival Paradise are superb and they will be thrilled to read your review as will the people with beards at Carnival HQ who will all be glowing when they see that we have some new fans of the fun for all Carnival product. I am so glad you won that bet!

I hope to see you soon

Best wishes to all
John

Barry McConnell Asked:

The news about your glucose level is great. I have eliminated my diabetes with diet (starting last October). Those 40 lbs you need to lose are what I have dropped. Here is a big part of how I did it http://www.marksdailyapple.com/ . Really good info for you and Mark is pretty amazing eye candy for your lovely bride.

I found it remarkably easy to maintain my eating style aboard the Carnival Liberty in March and expect it to be easy again on the Carnival Dream in Nov when my Sweetie and I cruise for our 5th anniversary. We honeymooned on Carnival Miracle (my Sweetie’s first cruise) and cruising has become a big part of our marriage.

We’re booked for Carnival Magic next summer in Europe so perhaps we can get together for a chat and compare notes on how the battle is going.

John Says:
Hello Barry McConnell

I am trying very hard to get rid of those 40 pounds and it will be so much easier on the ship as I am too busy to go get that extra chicken drumstick from the fridge. Congratulations on losing the weight and I shall be reading the web site tonight. I had a quick glance and his primal blueprint looks fascinating. Thanks for thinking of me. I look forward to our chat on your Carnival Magic and hopefully most of those 40 pounds will be gone by then. Thanks for thinking of me.

Best wishes to you and your family
John

That’s all for now. I answered 20 questions there as I try to catch up a bit. Thanks for your patience and thanks for saying please and thank you………….I wonder if they got the hint?

Time for a break and while I go and do what a man has to do I will leave you with some photos of the Carnival Liberty and we will talk about her when I get back…………from………….well…………..you know where.

Thanks Stephanie for that great slide show. They included shots of Captain Giovanni Cutugno who for sure I will be writing much more about in blogs to come. Also featured were Chef de Cuisine Kamlesh Sharma and Maitre D Omur Oflaz. You will also see included in the slide show a reminder of the Carnival Liberty’s time in Europe. But where does she sail now………let’s have a look.

Western Caribbean

Saturday                      Miami, FL                              4:00pm

Sunday                        Fun Day at Sea

Monday                       Cozumel, Mexico                   8:00am            10:00pm

Tuesday                      Fun Day at Sea

Wednesday                 Grand Cayman                       7:30am            4:30pm

Thursday                     Ocho Rios, Jamaica                8:00am            3:30pm

Friday                         Fun Day at Sea

Saturday                      Miami, FL                             8:00am

I love this itinerary and many regular readers will know that it is one of my all time favorites. What springs out here is the 10:00pm stay in Cozumel which means you get to experience the night life as well as a full day in the sun. Many people ask why we don’t have more night ports and the simple answer is that there are few that offer a variety of things to do at night. In Cozumel the shops stay open until they see that smoke stack disappear over the horizon. There are night time excursions and of course there is Senior Charlies and Carlos and Frogs to enjoy as well.

Then there is Grand Cayman (build a pier you cheapskates) and Ocho Rios which is still my favorite Caribbean port. Yep, this is a really brilliant itinerary………and so is this.

Saturday                      M
iami,                                                4:00pm

Sunday                        Half Moon Cay, Bahamas      9:00am            5:00pm

Monday                       Fun Day at Sea

Tuesday                      St. Thomas                              9:00am            6:00pm

Wednesday                 San Juan, Puerto Rico            7:00am            3:30pm

Thursday                     Grand Turk                             11:00am          5:30pm

Friday                         Fun Day at Sea

Saturday                      Miami, FL                              8:00am

More great ports there as well, this ship really has the best of both Eastern and Western ports.

Then towards the holiday season she will sail on this 6 day cruise:

Saturday, Dec 18                    Miami, FL                             4:00pm

Sunday, Dec 19                       Fun Day at Sea

Monday, Dec 20                     Cozumel, Mexico                   8:00am            4:00pm

Tuesday, Dec 21                     Grand Cayman                        9:00am            4:00pm

Wednesday, Dec 22                Montego Bay, Jamaica           6:30am 3:00pm

Thursday, Dec 23                   Fun Day at Sea

Friday, Dec 24                        Miami, FL 8:00am

And how about this for a Christmas and New Year cruise……………it’s an fabulous 8 day.

Friday, Dec 24                               Miami, FL                                   4:00pm

Saturday, Dec 25                    Christmas Day At Sea

Sunday, Dec 26                       Fun Day at Sea

Monday, Dec 27                     St. Maarten, NA                     8:00am            5:00pm

Tuesday, Dec 28                     St. Thomas, USVI                   8:00am            6:00pm

Wednesday, Dec 29                San Juan, Puerto Rico            7:00am            3:30pm

Thursday, Dec 30                   Grand Turk                             11:00am          5:30pm

Friday, Dec 31                        New Years Eve Party At Sea

Saturday, Jan 01                     Miami, FL                              8:00am

Yep, the Carnival Liberty will always be one of my favorites. She was you will remember the first ever Carnival ship to sail on a full European itinerary and Heidi and I have many happy memories from our time there as I am sure you will have when you sail on her.

Well, there is quite a bit to catch up on. Let’s start with the huge industrial sized can of Chernobyl mutant worms I opened when I answered those questions about some of the cigar bars becoming non-smoking for a trial period. My musings along with the poll I posted were picked up by some of the industry’s top travel writers including Gene Sloan at USA Today as well as being a featured article on Cruise Critic.

Anyway, the facts are that the trial period is over and all the cigar bars have returned to allowing smoking there while the people at the top evaluate the trial period. Meanwhile the poll which was voted on by many of you shows you just how opinion is split here with the votes very close. Here are the poll results.

Do you think the cigar bars on the Destiny, Conquest and Splendor class ships should be totally non smoking?
Total Votes – 1,321
Yes – 665 50%
No – 656 50%

Do you think that currently we have the right balance of smoking and non smoking lounges on all our ships?
Total Votes – 1,155
Yes – 522 45%
No – 633 55%

Do you think that all smoking should be restricted to outside decks only?
Total Votes – 1,229
Yes – 679 55%
No – 550 45%

It’s very interesting reading those results and I have passed them on to the right people at the top of the Carnival tree. I see that many of you have posted comments about this and some have gotten a little heated and at times personal. I know that smokers and non-smokers will never agree and therefore I think it is time move on and allow the beards to examine everyone’s thoughts. Thank you though once again for taking the time to express your opinion on what will always be a very personal and sensitive subject. Oh and on a personal note…….as a cigar smoker I am preparing myself for the realization that there will be fewer and fewer places on land and at sea for me to smoke my Cuban masterpiece……………it is the way of the world.

One thing that everyone seems to be in agreement with is how absolutely fabulous the Chef’s Table experience is. I have taken over 150 bookings in the 2 weeks or so that I have been advertising reservations for it here on the blog thingy and that shows just how much word is spreading about this superb evening is. I was asked when the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Paradise will receive this option………….here are the dates:

CARNIVAL PARADISE                    SEPTEMBER 13

CARNIVAL SPLENDOR                   SEPTEMBER 19

Let me know if you would like me to reserve you a seat on this culinary journey. Please mark your post CHEF’S TABLE RESERVATION please.

I mentioned the Platinum experience earlier and wanted to go back to a question I answered some time ago about the tender priority our Platinum guests are allowed. It was mentioned that there was not a fleet wide directive on this which has now been rectified and I can confirm the following.

DEBARKATION BY TENDER

When you are ready Platinum card holders should go directly to the Guest Services Desk where a Guest Service Associate will arrange a staff member to escort you to the front of the tender ticket line or if a tender ticket system is not being used will take you to straight to the tender.

RETURN TO THE SHIP

Platinum card holders should go straight to the front of the line and show their cards to the security guards who will allow you on the tender.

Now, one of the concerns here is that it was reported to me by some ships that the occasional guest was trying to bring a party of 5, 10 or more, none of them whom were Platinum card holders. Obviously we can’t allow this as it is unfair to the rest of the guests. If you have kids in the family who are not platinum then of course that is fine but outside of this we need to keep this a benefit for those who have cruised with us ten times or more. For those guests who have reached Milestone status we will arrange for George Clooney and Megan Fox to put you on their backs and swim you back to the ship.

I hope you saw my little express postings both yesterday and a few days ago
in which I told you about the Carnival comedy club joining the entertainment program across the fleet. I thought you might like to see this little video which was made by Peter the Hair and features a few of the comics who you may see at the Punchliner.

And so this is my last week in the UK before I go to California. I am very much looking forward to seeing the Carnival Splendor and being on the West Coast again. And of course I want to be on stage as soon as possible as I have missed that a lot. There is nothing like the buzz of making people laugh……well…………except driving an Aston Martin at 200mph down I-95 with a naked Megan Fox by your side.

Obviously I said goodbye to the girls today and it was quite hard even though I will see them again on Wednesday. Heidi and Kye were supposed to fly with me. We were going to visit friends in Tennessee for a few days and then fly together to California where they would sail with me for a month. However, that is now not going to happen.

You see, since Kye had her MMR shots she has been……..well………different. She has been very clingy and has not been sleeping well. Before the injections she was sleeping from 7:00pm – 7:00am but now she wakes every few hours and has at times run a temperature. This, said our family doctor, is very, very normal and he said we can expect her to be like this for a few weeks as the chemicals inside her little body do what they do. We asked about taking her on a 10-hour flight and he said he would not recommend it for at least a two or three more weeks.

Obviously I was gutted as was Heidi but putting her through 10 hours on a plane when she isn’t 100% would be cruel and so we are on hold. I am disappointed on so many levels. For my good friends who were going to open their home to us and for Heidi who would have had a month’s holiday onboard. But most of all and selfishly I am disappointed for me. These past few weeks I have been at home have been simply brilliant and Kye is the absolute apple of me eye and being away from them will be ….well……….bloody awful. Heidi will make the decision as to when they can sail and so I am preparing myself for the BIG goodbye………..on Saturday.

So tomorrow I will be writing to you live from the Queen Victoria where I will have met Her Royal Highness Mrs Prince Charles……The Duchess of Cornwall………Camilla…….and of course she is a royal……which means I will have to bow. Now this has left me in a bit of quandary …………..how much of a bow should I give? Should I go all out with left hand clutching my big belly, and right hand drawing extravagant circles in the air? Or should I just nod my head? But if I do that she won’t remember me………I will just be one of those faceless minions she meets every single day. So………..I have decided not to bow or nod my head……………..but instead when I am introduced I intend to give her the daintiest curtsy she has ever seen.

Join me tomorrow and I will tell you all about it and the ship that she loves so very much ………… Queen Victoria.

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.