Don't Stop Me Now…I'm On A Roll

August 16, 2010 -

John Heald

Yesterday, after debarkation which having made a few subtle changes went rather smoothly I decided to go and look at the terminal building and have a walk around the port……alone of course………….as I am yet again ……Billy No Mates.

In California the sun always shines. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Well the sun wasn’t shining this morning and it was in fact a little chilly which of course being incased in a 200 pound light fluffy shell I really enjoyed.

It was 11:15 am when I walked outside and we were still waiting on Customs and Border Protection to allow guests to start boarding the ship…….permission we eventually received at 12:30 pm…….and it was fascinating to see the array of cars pulling up outside the terminal. There were Hummers which I have always found to be Judge Judy ugly and unless you are driving in Afghanistan……totally ridiculous. But what struck me more was the amount of Toyota Priuses that were driving into and out of the parking lot.

Now as you know I am not exactly a big fan of this car and have often believed that the point is not to save the planet but to be seen trying. I saw a Prius parked outside the cruise terminal this morning that had a tag plate thing that read “Hug Life” This was someone who wanted to make a green statement. This car was in fact a big metal beard. A pair of open-toed sandals with wheels, Al Gore with windscreen wipers.

But what made me laugh was parked right behind this was a Ford Excursion stretch limo thingy. It was so big in fact, that its front was parked outside the cruise terminal and the back was picking up passengers at Los Angeles Airport. This thing probably weighs more than most people’s houses and every time the engine starts half the palm trees in Long Beach withered and died. Yep, California’s diversity was obvious during my little walk and I found it absolutely fascinating. And that’s how I can sum up my first ever cruise out of California …… fascinating ………… said with a Mr. Spock style raise of the eyebrow.

The guests last week were for the most part from California and unlike other ships where people tend to be from pretty much everywhere, I would say at least 70% of the ship was Californian. And that meant they were indeed fascinatingly diverse and I truly enjoyed meeting them.

I met one chap called Cameron who was, as the name suggests, Scottish. He moved to L.A.  Some 20 years ago and absolutely loves it.

We chatted at the Coffee Shop one morning about living in Los Angles and I asked him about the terrible fires that had recently been on the news. He was very matter of fact about it stating that it was nothing really and that it happens every year at around this time. A few thousand homes are lost and the US Postal Service deletes a few zip codes from its database. Then the government throws around a few billion dollars, and everything gets back to normal. Then again he also said “Or as normal, at least, as this place ever gets, what with the fault lines, the floods, the mudslides, the droughts, the tsunami warnings and the 800 pound black bears that lumber through the city streets.” I had heard about floods, mudslides and earthquakes but bloody hell ….. bears as well.

Yep, my first cruise was a lot of fun and cruising with the Californians was something I probably should have done years ago. They were great at the shows and despite people’s concerns over the Californian economy they spent money onboard as well as we had a record 600 people eat at the Steakhouse. Yes we had some strange comments and I shall never be able to look at a coat hanger again without having a little smile. The only sour note was we didn’t catch the little bastard who scratched the words “fu**” in an elevator door. And we are guessing that the same person wrote the word “crip” in marker pen on the wall of a bathroom stall.

I thought the stupid sod had misspelled the word “crisps” which is what we Brits call potato chips but I am informed that a “crip” is some sort of gang word. I wish that we had caught the bugger who did this, made him/her pay for the damage and banned them from ever stepping foot on a Carnival ship ever again…………..crips my arse.

Anyway, here are some photos of the terminal building here in Long Beach and of course proud Mary.

Let’s crack on with some Q and A……….away we go.

Grizel Robertson Asked:

John, reply when/if you find time.

Your last 3 blogs have been blasts of fresh air. The first about the Nanny State in the UK is an accurate description of what most of the UK population think but cannot put in writing for fear of being hung, drawn & quartered! I nearly fell on the floor laughing over my arm rests on my chair.

Your second blog was a terrific insight to the world of Cunard & its British lineage. I am glad that you now see Camilla as a human being & not the ugly duckling or marriage breaker as was portrayed by factions of the UK media.

Your link to You’ll Never Walk Alone provided me with a nostalgic reflection on my youthful years. To hear Gerry Marsden lead the singing that became tumultuous & overwhelming, reminded me of my attendance at Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Hollies, Kinks, Moody Blues & Roy Orbison concerts when the audience screamed in delight rather than under the influence of drugs.

Of course you are much younger than me & it will be a memory to your parents rather than to you. As you are a CD who is involved with onboard musical productions, I assume that you are aware that the Liverpool team anthem originates from Roger & Hammerstein’s musical “Carousel” whose lyricists penned one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard entitled, “If I Loved You”, from the same musical. I was a member of CAOS (Carluke Amateur Operatic Society) for over 10 years in my past life & took part in various productions in the chorus, cameo & lead roles & in our offshoots for pantomime productions.

However, like you I love Jamaica & Bob Marley must be the biggest Hit when it comes to the Best Choice of Music & Rhythm for Cruisers. I cannot seem to find a cruise that includes Ocho Rios from my base

John Says:
Hello Grizel Robertson

I am so glad that you have been enjoying the blogs and especially those I wrote while I was at home. I always worry that when I am not on a ship that the blogs are boring and stale. In fact I was actually thinking of suspending the blogs while at home. So I was happy therefore that you enjoyed them, especially the ones about living as we do, in the UK.

It is no surprise given your background of amateur operatic that you are a lover of Rogers and Hammerstein and you correctly pointed out that the anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is from Carousel. Things have changed a lot with our shows onboard because some years ago it would be safe to say that most of our production shows featuring the dancers and singers were Broadway based. They included snippets from Carousel, Guys and Dolls, Westside Story and a few years’ later excerpts from Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables and many more. Now we have moved away from old school Broadway and west end shows and feature more modern musicals such as Mama Mia (God help us) and We Will Rock You.

Anyway, you mentioned Jamaica and obviously you are going to need to once again fly to the States to take a cruise that goes to my favourite Caribbean island. The Carnival Conquest sails to Montego Bay from Galveston, as your new Carnival Magic next year. By the way, we run an excursion to Bob Marley’s grave and museum there. If you are a fan of Bob Marley then this is a must visit.

Thanks once again for taking the time to write and the next time you make a decent cup of tea…..think of me.

Best wishes

Sean McGrath Asked:
John, please reply

As ever my gratitude for your blog and best wishes to your family.

You were kind enough to reply to my comment about the decision to increase the single supplement for 1A categories and you passed the information onto the relevant people that make the decisions. Many many thanks to you for doing so. I have a follow up to this.

I have booked a Royal Caribbean Trans Atlantic cruise for late next year. I won’t be surprised if it is not as enjoyable as my previous Carnival cruises which I have been fortunate enough to take and I know they sometimes look down on us Carnival people for no good reason. To be honest I would prefer Carnival but for one fact, the price.

My RCI cruise is working out at about $90 a day, for the 13 night Trans Atlantic sailing at the end of October 2011.

The closest itinerary that Carnival offers is the Carnival Magic Trans Atlantic around the same time that year which works out at about $104 a day.

Obviously I am not comparing like with like here, the Carnival Magic sailing is the inaugural Trans Atlantic, which obviously makes it more special.

Also the Magic is a longer cruise, but there is still a total price differential of around $500 between them and that is taking a “Promenade” inside stateroom on the whatever of the sea’s versus a normal inside 1A on the Carnival Magic.

This is only a single incidence where RCI out price Carnival and not necessarily indicative of a trend and after which Carnival may continue to offer the best value options, but I still wish to bring this to your attention in the hope that you will be kind enough to pass it onto your colleagues who deal with such matters. I really enjoy Carnival cruises and hope to be able to afford to return to them as soon as possible, thus I wish to do my little bit to encourage that possibility along.

The final matter I wish to bring to your attention is that RCI have a UK based operation and thus were able to offer me a fly cruise option from Dublin as well as other airports in the UK. They also have a UK call center, so that does make dealing with them a good bit easier. Again, you are not the man responsible for this and I doubt the UK/ Ireland market is as important to Carnival as it is to RCI, but my appreciation would be with you if you could also suggest to the powers that be that such matters could help them tap into the UK/ Ireland market.

Many thanks for anything you can do for this John.

Kindest regards and please keep up the good work.

John Says:
Hello Sean McGrath

This is truly an international Q&A session. We were just with Grizel in Scotland and now we are with you in beautiful Ireland. Your post is very interesting and it is obvious that you wanted to cruise with us but it is understandable given your situation that you took the better deal on the something of the seas. I do not pretend to understand the complexities of pricing yet I totally understand that this sort of information needs to go to the people who make these decisions. And that I promise will happen.

I also know that Carnival’s UK operation is not as big as other lines in the UK and I know that this is something that we can do something about by making our website easier to use and as friendly and as fun as the site. Obviously Carnival Corp has P&O, Holland America, Costa Cruises and, of course, Cunard that have large operations and advertising budgets in the UK and across Europe but as I for one would love to see more Carnival Cruise Lines representation there as well.

I hope you have a great crossing and I hope you will give us your insight to how it was when you get home. I will send your thoughts on to the top.

Best wishes and thanks so much for the very kind words.

Melissa Asked:
Hi John (Please Reply)

My Husband & I were lucky enough to be on the Conquest in April when you were the CD, and we had never laughed so much in our entire lives. Thank you for such a wonderful time. We were thinking of booking the Magic -16 day transatlantic, and were wondering if you were going to be the CD on this sailing? Thanks. Melissa

John Says:
Hello Melissa

That was very kind of you and I have so many happy memories of my time on the Carnival Conquest. It is my intention to be the CD on your Carnival Magic’s trans-Atlantic voyage. I would say that at this time it is 90% certain that I will be and it would be wonderful to share this experience with you. If you have any other questions please let me know and I hope you do book this because I promise it will be a fantastic experience.

Best wishes to you both

Beata Asked:
Hi John (Please Reply)

I am also sorry to about Heidi and Kye’s travel changes. I hope the weeks go by quickly for you until they join you.

I wanted to thank you for offering to make reservations for the Chef’s Table (and for the quick response confirming our own reservation on the Dream sailing on Sept 11, 2010). This is going to be our 20th cruise with Carnival and we are really looking forward to it and to the new Chef’s Table experience!!!

I remember years ago when the Steakhouses were new on Carnival ships and back then you helped me get a reservation from your blog thingy before it was available online through the Carnival website. At that time the standard way to book was to wait until you boarded the ship much like the Chef’s Table now. I always look forward to reading your posts – they are so informative and they really make my day. You are truly a caring and talented person!

Thanks again for everything you do.
Beata Smith

John Says:
Hello Beata Smith

Since I offered to help with reservations for The Chef’s Table I have had a many requests and thanks to the kind cooperation of the maitre d’s and Steakhouse hostesses we have confirmed well over 300 places across the fleet. I am glad that you got your confirmation and I know that you will really enjoy this when you sail on your Carnival Dream. It’s not long now until you sail so if you need anything else before you do please let me know.

Have a brilliant cruise

Best wishes

Brenda and Herman G Asked:

Can you tell me where Captain Angelo Los is these days. I cruised with you and the Captain many years ago on the Destiny and my husband and I sat at his table with you in the dining room and he was just wonderful. We haven’t seen him since and would love to be on the same ship as him again. Can you help?

We sailed with you again on the Freedom to Turkey and we have so many amazing memories of you and that cruise. I just found your blog which has been a great surprise.

Thank you so much

John Says:
Hello Brenda and Herman G

I have so many happy memories also of the cruises we did to Turkey on the Carnival Freedom and I hope one day Carnival will return there. Captain Los is one of my great friends. He was my first captain as a young cruise director on the Carnivale and he and his wife Elizabeth had dinner with us the night Heidi and I got engaged on the Carnival Imagination. Captain Los is currently on vacation and is due to return to the Carnival Triumph in October. I will make sure he sees your lovely words and I hope we all get to sail together again one day soon. Welcome to the blog.

Best wishes to you both.

Flynlo Asked:
Morning John, Please Respond

Would like to thank you again for the arrangements you made for our family on the Carnival Conquest last November. They really enjoyed being in the newlywed game. Chris Jefferson was great as always, hope he is still on next February as this will be our last Carnival Conquest cruise out of Galveston. We have Carnival Magic already booked for Nov 2011.

John could you please ask the Maitre d on Carnival Spirit (Glacier Bay cruise) for a table for 2 on Sept 7, 2010. We appreciate all the help you have provided us.

Keep up the good work. Thanks.
Preston n Judy

John Says:
Hello Preston n Judy

We will soon be talking about the 2011 CD schedule and once it is set I will of course post it here on the blog thingy. I am so glad that Chris helped you out — he is a great guy and an excellent CD. I will ask the maitre d on the Carnival Spirit to do his best to accommodate your request.

Have a fantastic time

Best wishes

ka-bob Asked:
Dear John,

Please respond when you have time.

First let me say how happy I am to have your blog back. I returned last week from the Carnival Victory in time to see you were taking the week off. I am so glad you had some time to spend with the girls. I know it won’t make up for them being unable to travel with you, but I’m sure you will have lots of moments to remember. Kye is so beautiful and growing so fast!

I would first like to tell you about two people who made our cruise so enjoyable. They are Bagus and Julie, our servers in the Pacific Dining room. We were at table 566 for the early seating. They were the only crew members who called us by name, and they made the cruise truly wonderful. The entire dining staff was fantastic, but Bagus and Julie made it memorable. I came to dinner every evening, just to see the two of them. I usually skip one of the formal nights and eat at the buffet, but I didn’t want to miss out on whatever the dining staff had planned. They were friendly, always had a smile on their faces and went out of their way to make it special for all of their tables.

Unfortunately, the rest of the cruise wasn’t as wonderful. We had two cabins and the service in both was not what I have experienced on other Carnival cruises (this was my 4th and my mother’s 6th). The service wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t what I have come to expect from Carnival. For the first time ever, I didn’t give Exceeds Expectations on every category.

Also, we were in muster station A for the lifeboat drill. Let me start by saying, I loved not having to bring my life jacket and the humor that was inserted was much appreciated by everyone around me. My complaint is that we were at the front of the ship in a small hallway. The station extended both in front and in back of the hallway. We had the misfortune to show up at the wrong time and end up in the back row of the hall. The hall was only wide enough for two rows of people and a narrow aisle to walk. When they began the safety briefing, the crew members were standing in the sections in front and in back of the hallway, and we could not see a thing. Every once in awhile, I would catch a brief flash of orange. Now obviously, I have heard the briefing before and am confident I can work the life jacket, but there were probably 40 people in the same hallway with me who couldn’t see anything, either. I heard them complaining. Not only was it unbelievably hot, but other than knowing where to go, it was a waste of time. Also, the paint was peeling on the ceiling. We had plenty of time to look at the ceiling since we couldn’t see anything else.

With that said, we still had a great time. The food was good, the lines were short and we saw 6 amazing islands.

The tragedy on St. Thomas happened on our cruise and I wanted to compliment Carnival on how the situation was handled. I was impressed with how quickly we were informed, via a letter, with what had happened and I thought the situation was handled very tastefully. I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family.

Now to my question, sorry it took so long to get there. I wanted to know how the Dining Room is assigned. I know the Maitre’ D assigns the table, but does he also assign the dining room? The reason I ask is that we were at the front of the ship, and we were assigned to the dining room at the back, even though there was a dining room in between. We have always been assigned to the dining room closest to our cabin and so I assumed they took that into account. Do they look at the cabin assignments when making those decisions? My mother has a hard time walking and wanted me to ask for a change in the dining room. I didn’t ask because I thought the tables would have all been assigned. Should I have asked for a change? Do they leave tables empty for this kind of situation? I hate being the squeaky wheel, and mom can walk okay; it just takes her a little longer to get there.

I didn’t know if you had addressed this issue already. If you have, I apologize. I promised my mom I would write and ask about dining room assignments for future cruises. Please tell me there wasn’t anything I could have done about our assignment once the cruise started. It will save me from no end of “I told you so’s” from my mother.

Thanks for everything you do and for getting back to the blog thingy. It makes me laugh on a daily basis.


John Says:
Hello Ka – bob

Let’s start with the fact that you had a great time despite some obvious concerns and I want to thank you very much for taking the time to praise some of the staff who made your cruise special. Now, as to the lifeboat drill or safety briefing as we now call it. It certainly is a benefit that guests no longer have to wear their life jackets, especially in hot weather. Obviously though we need to make sure that people can see the demonstration so that you do know the correct and proper way to wear them. I have sent this to the ship’s command so that they can see your comments and can act accordingly and thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Now to your question about dining assignments. On Friday I posted an interview with the Senior Maitre D here on the Carnival Splendor, Miguel. I asked him that same question…….how do you conduct your reservations and decide who sits where. In case you missed it, here is his answer:

All guests specify what time they would like to dine when booking the cruise. Should their requested time still be available, they are then confirmed to their requested time. Should the guests not receive their preferred time, then they are given the alternate option or are waitlisted for their requested time. When seating the guests we always seat the guests according to their “category,” e.g. travelling together, groups, families, couples, singles, etc. to assist us in seating them correctly. We then seat couples of the same age bracket together, families with other families, singles with singles, etc. This way the guests have something in common when seated with other guests. It sounds more difficult than it really is ….more like a huge puzzle and I then have to try get the right piece to fit in at the right table.

I have just asked him about your question and Miguel told me that for the most part guests are not seated in a dining room based on their stateroom or its position. However, if at anytime someone wants to be seated based on their walking abilities or any other special need they should contact Carnival or allow me to contact the ship directly so that I can arrange what is needed. I hope your Mum is OK and I am sorry that she had to walk so far, please send her my apologies.

The tragedy that happened in St. Thomas shocked us all and I cannot imagine how it must have been for those on the ship that cruise. Thank you for those kind words about how the ship handled this and once again our continuing thoughts are with the family.

So I am glad you had a good cruise and please always remember that if there is anything I can do for you or Mum to please let me know here on the blog thingy.

Best wishes

Dave and Barb Butler w/ Valentine Asked:
Hi John (please Reply)

We hope you have had a great vacation. Sorry to hear about Kye and her MMR’s.

We want to let you know that since you weren’t having a Bloggers cruise this fall, we decided to take your advice and are trying Princess. We are book on the Crown Princess the 27th of November. We got a special from them in the mail and thought we would try them. So far we have found out a few things. “WE ARE NOT CARNIVAL.” That is what I get every time I mention Carnival, even if it is Carnival Corp not cruise line. The special needs lady, Allison Muff, seems great, very helpful and attentive. Now the rest of customer service could use a tune up.

I have been trying to contact the person for my stock holder’s onboard credit for a week and never got an answer. So today I called and it was busy, and then the message asks if I wanted to continue waiting to press 3. This came up about every third ring, then after a while, every ring. The next thing I know the line rang thru but was quickly picked up and hung up without an answer. So, I went thru the same scenario again, and after about 5 minutes Liza Mc Daniel answered. She really didn’t want to talk to me because final payment hasn’t been made. I ask if she meant Final Payment Date or whenever we pay off the cruise, this she never would clarify. I also mentioned that when we did this with Carnival it didn’t matter about final payment. Then I got the usual statement.

There have been a few other conversations that didn’t go well either but this topped one the cake.

I hope customer service onboard is better, like you have said. We are looking forward to trying them. The Crown Princess looks like a nice ship and they do seem to have some interesting amenities that are different from Carnivals. Once again, the special needs lady Allison Muff was outstanding.

One more thing. Barb wants to know if we need to start calling you Sir John now?

Good luck on the West coast.
Dave Butler

John Says:
Hello Dave and Barb Butler

Well, one thing is for certain. Having cruised on the Emerald Princess myself I can promise you that you will absolutely love your Princess experience and that the service, food and entertainment will be outstanding. It looks though like they need some guidance in some aspects of their shoreside customer service and I promise that I will send your comments to someone in a senior position there. Please would you keep me informed if you do not get the help you need?

I hope you both have a brilliant time and please can you write to us here on the blog thingy and tell us all about it.

Best wishes to you both and hope to see you soon.
Sir John

Larry Wheatley Asked:
Please Respond.

We are planning a cruise on Carnival Miracle next spring to Bermuda out of New York and are wondering if we pass by the Statute of Liberty and if we do what time would we be passing her? Thanks a lot for all the info on the blog every time I think of a good question you answer it for someone else.

John Says:
Hello Larry Wheatley

Well, according to the Captain here on the Carnival Splendor who has sailed out of New York many times, the Statue of Liberty will be visible on the starboard (right) side of the ship, approximately 20 minutes after sailing. As for the return, well this depends on what time the ship is required to be alongside which after I checked doesn’t seem to have been decided as yet. Please can you ask me 4 or 5 weeks before you sail and I will make sure I give you the correct and up to date information? One thing is for sure, it will be an incredible, unforgettable experience.

Best wishes

And that’s your lot for today. Please remember that if you would like me to reply, please mark your questions John Please Reply and I will. And just a reminder also that I am 3 weeks or so behind so please allow me some time to answer. Thanks so much.

Well before we move on to talk about this cruise, let’s have one more little look back at last cruise. I hosted 4 morning and afternoon shows which many of you will know feature guest dedication letters. This week I received 139 letters. I know because I counted them. I did this because I have no hobbies or friends. Anyway, it never ceases to amaze me what people tell me in these letters. Some are simple dedications of love or messages of congratulations. Some are not and go into much more detail about their lives and how a Carnival cruise has helped them remember how to enjoy life and have fun. Have a read of these.

Goodness me what a sad story. I spoke to Alex and told him he should be so very proud of what he has done to help his family through the most difficult of times.

On a slightly more humorous note, have a look at this letter of praise for the crew and then what a guest thinks I would look like……………in a thong.

Thank goodness they drew it from the back and not the front.

That was the week that was and here is who is sailing with me this week on voyage SD7150810

GUEST COUNT                     3,616

NON US CITIZENS               417 total (255 from Canada – 55 from UK – 39 – Mexico)

PAST GUESTS                       1,441

Under 2 Years 18
2-5 Years (Camp Carnival) 122
6-8 Years (Camp Carnival) 107
9-11 Years (Camp Carnival) 178
12-14 Years (Circle “C”) 219
15-17 Years (Club 02) 247
18-20 Years 212

Yep, another busy week and a full ship. We have 1,100 kids and teens on and it looks like we will have high counts of youngsters until the cruise of September 5.

Last cruise I introduced you to Linda the Housekeeping Manager and Miguel the Senior Maitre D. Today I thought I should present some very important people to you. You see, without these young people there would be no shows. That’s because all of our amazing lighting and special effects, our digital sound and amplification and the complexities of our scenery and backstage management. That’s why we have a team of outstanding professionals who work hard behind the scenes to make sure the show goes on. Let’s meet our senior entertainment technician ………… Mr. Nick Grouper…………bugger……sorry………..Mr. Nick Herring.

Please tell us about you. Where are you from and how did you get to work for Carnival? My name is Nick Herring, I’m 20 years old and I reside in San Diego, CA. I was hired with Carnival Cruise Lines at the age of 18 as Entertainment Technician- Lighting & FX. I started getting involved with Lighting in High School and throughout those years I grew my knowledge and got involved in many different shows and events operating and/or designing the lighting for shows and events around San Diego. Currently I have designed over 60 different productions and have been involved with over 150 productions all together ranging from concerts to full-sized theatrical productions.

Senior Entertainment Technician is a grand title but many readers will not know what your job is all about. So…..…what does a SET do? The senior entertainment technician is responsible for the overall operation and maintenance of all technical entertainment systems and areas. This includes the main theatre as well as the various entertainment venues and areas around the vessel. I also am responsible for making sure the entertainment technicians are adhering to the policies, directives and schedules set forth by the head office and their supervisors. As far as the production shows go, I work very closely with the cruise director, dance captain, and musical director in assuring that everything runs smoothly in order to produce the best possible performances and product for our guests. There is a lot of paperwork and other administrative tasks involved but that all comes with the job. I am proud to say that I have recently been promoted to the new position of entertainment technical manager which includes all the duties stated above as well as now being responsible for the overall operation and maintenance of all audiovisual systems aboard the vessel.

Lighting is your specialty, can you tell us something about the lighting we have in the show room here on the Carnival Splendor? I am honored to be able to work with some very advanced technology here on the Carnival Splendor. In the main theatre which is appropriately called the Spectacular-Spectacular, I operate and maintain 84 Intelligent Moving Lights: 10 VL3500’s, 25 VL2500 Spots, 27 VL2500 Washes, 16 Cyber Light CL Litho’s, & 6 MAC250 Washes. In addition to that, there are 302 static lighting fixtures. Everything is controlled by a GrandMA light and an ETC Expression III which is used for everyday activities. We also have an integrated AMX touch panel interface system which gives us extra control of the Audio, Video, & Lighting systems in the Spectacular Theatre.

Can you tell us what the other technicians on the ship do? Aboard the Carnival Splendor we have three other Entertainment Technicians who play key roles in producing the three production shows we have here on the Carnival Splendor. Alex, our backstage manager is in charge of the overall operation of the stage area during our shows and events.  She makes sure everything and everyone is safe onstage. She is also responsible for the upkeep of the props and scenery used in the shows. Scotty, our audio engineer operates and maintains the audio control consoles and systems in the main theatre as well as the other entertainment venues and areas. And last but certainly not least, Kevin, our automation technician operates and maintains the moving scenery and stage in the main theatre for the shows. There are 33 line sets (backdrops) and our stage is equipped with a 25’ turntable, orchestra pit lift, and five lifts which are part of the revolving stage.

What is your favourite part of the job? My favorite part of the job is working with the various systems we have in the Spectacular theatre for the shows but at the end of the day my favorite part of the job is seeing the reaction of the guests who just watched one of our shows. They love them. My least favorite part of the job as far as lighting goes would be not being able to perform certain maintenance due to rough seas, cast change, or any other thing that would affect my ability to do my job. After all, if even one light isn’t working, even if the audience doesn’t know, that brings down the quality of the show as far as my standards go.

And finally, if you could design lighting for any world famous performer, who would it be and why? Hmm, I would love the opportunity to design a Broadway production, but if I had to design the lighting for a performer or performers, it would probably be the Blue Man Group. Let’s face it, if you’ve seen their shows, you can’t pass that opportunity up if it came your way! Either of those would be ideal as I love taking a script which is just a bunch of words and painting that with light on stage creating looks, moods, and settings that portray what is happening in the most natural way. I mean, the light of everyday is so beautiful anyway and being able to put that on stage is amazing.

And here are the Entertainment Team here on the Carnival Splendor.

Photo 1 (from left to right):

Nick Herring- Sr. Entertainment Technician/Lighting & FX

Kevin Larson- Fleet Supervisor/Stage & Automation

Alex Brouwer- Backstage Manager

Scotty Spear- Audio Engineer

Photo 2 (from left to right):

Nick Herring- Sr. Entertainment Technician/Lighting & FX

Scotty Spear- Audio Engineer

Alex Brouwer- Backstage Manager

Kevin Larson- Fleet Supervisor/Stage & Automation

The technicians are always unsung and never get to take a bow……..until now. So, the next time you see a fantastic Carnival show and marvel at the incredible dancers and singers and the wonderful scenery and magical lights and sound, remember, there is a team of people running them whom without there would be no show. Thanks to Nick Snapper…..bugger…..Nick Herring. Kevin Larson, Alex Brouer and Scotty Spear for all the wonderful work they do here on the Carnival Splendor. Take a bow guys.

Last week I have a difficult conversation to have with a crew member. You see, his cabin mate has told me that he can longer share a cabin with him as he has …….ummm……..body hygiene problems. He apparently seldom washes or cleans his teeth.  It was a very difficult conversation. I was asked to help another department manager out with this as they didn’t feel that they could do this and so……they asked me…….John Heald, senior hygiene director. Have you ever had to tell anyone this? I don’t mean a family member because that’s different. You see, if you are married and like me you fart like a yak that’s just eaten a trough of baked beans, or you have the breath of a camel that has been chewing on my underpants all day, then Heidi will tell me.

But try telling a grown man that he smells……..a lot? As anyone who’s ever tried telling someone they have toxic breath knows, they’d hate you less if you were having rumpy pumpy with their wife. But I had been asked to help and so I did. It was a very hard conversation and he was though very thankful that someone had told him because he said…..he had no idea. So, that was as I said a very difficult topic to talk to someone about but I was glad to have helped another department head………I hope that’s the last time I ever have to do that.

Right, just before we go I want to share this with you from last week. I just read the security report from Saturday night and found this absolute gem.

Sent: Saturday, August 14, 2010 9:28 PM
Subject: CABIN ______

Please note state room steward ____________reported seeing a guest take 7 rolls of toilet paper from his trolley into their cabin.

Sent: Saturday, August 15, 2010 7:40AM
Subject: CABIN ______

Security Guard _________________ went to cabin and found seven toilet tissues and 1 box of chocolate mints. Items were removed and returned to housekeeping.

Brilliant. What strikes me here are two things. First of all the cabin was a lovely balcony stateroom so obviously the middle aged couple staying could afford that but couldn’t afford to buy toilet paper…….the mind boggles. Then, I love the way that the security team member described it as “toilet tissues”…….was wonderfully polite. But this happens a lot on our ships and maybe someone reading this blog has taken a souvenir roll home with them. Well, if you have then what I am about to tell you is your fault. I have decided to recommend to the beards at Carnival that we remove all the toilet paper we currently use and replace it with something called Izal Medicated. I don’t know if you had this in North America but it was the only reason I hated going to my grandmothers cottage and why I would sit straining on our toilet for hours before we went there. Medicated toilet paper was shiny on one side and only fit for tracing pictures or putting on a comb and zumming a tune. Yep, Carnival is putting this in the cabins……. nobody is ever going to want to steal that.

As always the Welcome Aboard Show was a lot of fun and tomorrow I will introduce you to some of the characters that I met. But if you will allow me I want to take you back one more time to last week and a belly dancer that performed in the talent show. She is very talented and I think you might enjoy the medal ceremony at the end………… man certainly did.

Your friend

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.