The Very First Time

October 1, 2010 -

John Heald

So last night Heidi, Kye and I went to the steakhouse. Please don’t worry, this is not a blog to prove that kids can go to the steakhouse although I do have to say at this point that she slept most of the time in her stroller and when she was awake she happily giggled and munched on a piece of bread. I will though say that we did get some strange looks from one or two guests but I am not sure if that was “Oh look that fat ugly cruise director has somehow managed to reproduce,” rather than “Oh, bugger — a kid.”

Nope, this piece of the blog has bugger all to do with that but more about what we do as we grow old but first let me tell you that every time I go to the steakhouse I am amazed at what we serve and the price we serve it for. I had the French onion soup, the carpaccio, and porterhouse (very well done) and while staying strong and ignoring the wasabi mash I did have the asparagus and the fresh horseradish ….and it was spectacular. Heidi had the sushi, the blue cheese vegetarian green stuff and the surf and turf and the chocolate trio thingy desert.

Anyway, I have been feeling old these past few weeks and having had Kye here has kept me invigorated and energetic. However, there are days when I feel like I have the energy of a dead sloth and that could be a “diabetic day” where my sugar levels drop too quickly or it could just be……..that I am 45 years old which thinking about it means I am closer to the grave…… than the cradle, I think I have changed as I have gotten older as well, caring just a little less about what I look like, how I am supposed to behave, whether I am cool and even though I am losing weight and know I must continue to do so……not really caring if someone here on the blog wants to tell me they hate me and my stomach.

I just want to be the best CD I can be, make people laugh and not worry if 5 out of 3,500 don’t. I want to be the best dad I can be and not worry if people think she’s my granddaughter…..as one guest asked me yesterday. These are the benefits of growing older……you care less about what others think and more that you are comfortable in your own skin…..even if you have more skin than most like I do.

Anyway, back to the steakhouse. At the table across from where Heidi and I and Kye were sitting I watched a guy, probably about 50 something, struggling to read the menu in the subtle mood lights that we provide. Then without making a big fuss, he reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and took out one of those mini-flashlights, switching it on and twirling it into position with a deft one-handed Ninja-like movement.

While I watched fascinated a table of four thirty something’s looked at him as if he’d made them watch some truly embarrassing act. They seemed to represent youth and what he had done made them feel uncomfortable and caused nervous laughter. He was simply doing what was practical not worrying about what others might think.

The waitress came over………he made his suggestions and ordered for his wife as well…… clicked off the torch and, this time, placed it, on the table.  I was almost disappointed when he didn’t use the flashlight to check the food when it came.

Yep, he was comfortable in his own skin and that was a joy to see. He was very different to some of the men on the Carnival Splendor. I can’t for obvious reasons tell you his name but I can tell you he is 50 years old and I think say for certain that he is having a mid-life crisis. In the old days you could always tell the man with the mid life crisis on his mind.  As soon as you saw the Porsche Boxster in the driveway or the motorcycle leathers in the closet, you just knew that here was a man facing his 50th birthday and the terrors that come with it.

But from what I have seen it isn’t a Porsche or a Harley that shows a man is having that MLC ………nope……….because many of the 50 something Californian men I have seen here are handling it a different way…….. By working out three times a day, having beauty treatments and from the evidence I have seen ……..cosmetic surgery. Yep, don’t get me wrong, they are nice guests and fun to entertain but while the guests I met in Texas and Charleston and Florida seem to be OK with similar awnings over their stomachs like I have………the Californian men are fighting back against their sagging girth and therefore their sagging egos. The spa manager reports that there are as many men on this ship that have massages and facials as there are women.

Now I spend very little time in the Red Carpet Dance Club as you know but when I have popped my head round the door I have seen these 50 something single men in their tight jeans and designer shirts pretending to enjoy and dancing to the music of today. How they listen to this rubbish is beyond me because there is simply no difference between 50 Cent, 25 Cent, Pee Diddly, Justin Trousersnake, Emm and Emm and the Black Eyed Cauliflowers. They are just an angry men who, so far as I can tell, wouldn’t know a piano if one were to land on their heads.

So as I grow old it’s the chap with flashlight that becomes my role model and not the Porsche driving Botox-filled 50 somethings. Although saying that…….I would still love an Aston Martin ……..and I bet the 50 something toned and tanned men get more Latvian rumpy pumpy than a fat bent-toothed droopy-eyed cruise director……….. mmmmm ………. actually ………… forget everything I have written so far………….it’s total bollocks.

Let’s crack on with today’s Q and A …….off we go.

Beth Flynn Asked:
John – Please respond

I have been away 2 weeks on the Carnival Liberty and I still have not had the time to catch up on the past blogs, but I had to take a moment and write a short review of our trip.

First I have to say a great big THANK YOU for the goodies left for us. My son was so excited to get a Liberty Statue to add to his growing collection. Of course at 10 he ‘collects’ everything. Just you wait. LOL

Kyle Post was a Wonderful CD. Energetic, fun and tireless! When I went to thank him for the letter and the gifts, he remembered who I was, why I had thought my sister was the best and that her birthday was the following week. I was VERY impressed with his ability to recall all this and make it sound very casual and conversational. What a great guy! My entire family had a great time with Kyle!

The first week we had Chuleekorn in the dining room (Silver) and I have never had a better wait staff. She was spot on with every meal and still had time to entertain beyond compare. My son had a bit of a crush and she danced with all! She is a true treasure and I hope you let her know we appreciated her and hope to have her again someday! Justino was our steward and was also unbelievable. To take care of a family our size and make everyone feel special and important is an amazing talent. He could not have been better. The second week, our waiter and steward ( Sirrathep and Naparrat SP?) were very adept and capable and they did a great job, but the first week, Chulee and Justino definitely set themselves above the norm. Wow, outstanding!

My husband won dinner for 2 at Harry’s Steakhouse and it was something I will definitely do again on EVERY cruise. However, I will have to save it for the end of every cruise so as not to be spoiled for the dining room food. Not that the dining room food isn’t great, it is! But Harry’s is SOOOOO good! Do not miss, good.

I cannot tell you what a great time we had. Words do not express. Every day was special and exciting. Me and 3 other family members chose to purchase future cruise credits and they were all first time cruisers!!! I still have one booked and ready to go, but now this guarantees another! Woohoo!

John, again, thank you for everything you did to make this last 2 weeks some of the best days of our lives. Great, great memories!

John Says:
Hello Beth Flynn

It is very very early in the morning here, in fact as I sit here in my you know what’s the clock is telling me it is 6:48am. I had to write the blog early today as I have a very busy day and didn’t want to let you all down. And so as I rub my tired computer-strained eyes I cannot tell you what a joy it is to read a review like yours as the first question today. I will of course make sure that those mentioned get to see what you have written and my thanks to young Kyle for taking care of you. I hope it’s not too long before you sail again and of course I will be here to make sure that if you need anything that I will do my best to make it happen. Thanks again for taking the time to write.

Best wishes to you both
John

Ted Asked:
Reply by John!! (URGENT)

Read the comments on Ice Tea on cruise critic and my fellow members are correct that it is putrid. RCI’s is better by a distance and so embarrassingly for you is the tea they serve at Perkins. While you are telling your company that many on Cruise Critic hate the tea you might want to pass on the fact that they never replaced the fruit punch.

Ted

John Says:
Dear Ted:

Who are the Perkins?

Best wishes
John

Bruce Asked:
Dear John (please reply),

We have a couple of questions for you. We feel that you are one of the few that can possibly answer them. So here it is, my wife and I are trying to remember some of the things from our original honeymoon cruise, to put in an album. Our honeymoon cruise was back in February 1990 on the Jubilee. We had a great time, especially the pillow fight on the pole part. (Maybe we’ll have to post a pic of it on your facebook page). The bet between my wife and I is back then there was a marriage show, I say that it was the newlywed game and she says that it was just like today’s marriage shows. Is it possible for you to tell us what Carnival did on their ships all those years ago?

Been loving the blog since we found it. We are booked to sail on the Splendor on the Dec. 19th cruise. So we’re sorry that we will just miss you. My wife and I just couldn’t wait for that cruise, so we scheduled another one out of Tampa on the Legend on 9-26-2010. We are trying something new on this cruise, we went for an aft balcony and on the Splendor we are doing a spa balcony, both new to us. On the Legend our cabin is 7349 on the Splendor it is 1036. I hope both of these are great locations. Our daughter thinks we have lost it, because we scheduled another cruise this year. We told her our goals are to come home with a coconut monkey head cup (I understand that I’ll have to find one of these early on in the cruise, because they go fast) The other goal is to come home with a ship on a stick. We plan on having fun trying to win one, but if you want to help clue us in it would be much appreciated.

Thanks for the great entertainment,
Bruce the flyer

John Says:
Hello Bruce

Well, way back then in 1990 there were two shows featuring married couples. One was called the Couples and Lovers Party which was basically just free champagne and kissing and then there was the old fashioned Newly Wed and Not So Newly Wed game. This is the one where three couples sit back to back and answer stock questions about each other. Some CD’s still do it this way and it can be funny. I now have changed mine to what I call the Marriage Show, a clip of which I will be showing you later. So for what is probably the first time in your life…..you are right ….your wife is wrong. I can see that as I write this you are on the Carnival Legend and I have just read it in time to ask the CD there to send you a trophy. Please let me know if you get it. Thanks again for sailing with us and I hope that you continue to enjoy the blog thingy.

Best wishes
John

Elaine Asked:
JOHN… PLEASE REPLY…

Today is the day that your girls joined you so I thought this would be a good time to ask you for a favor once again… Let me tell you first that I have goose bumps for you because I know you are sooooooo happy right now to have Heidi & Kye on the ship with you and if you’re happy, we’re happy…

My parents, Marty & Naomi (Grandma & Poppy) are once again cruising (their 24th Carnival Cruise) on the Carnival Miracle 10/18.

John, they don’t want a Ship on a Stick, they don’t want a bottle of champagne, they don’t want a fruit basket and even though they are married 56 years, they don’t want to be in the Marriage Show!!! All they need /want is a table or booth (which they would like better if available) for just the 2 of them where it is easy to get to and still be able to watch the Wait staff does their nightly dances. For whatever reason, they like to eat just the 2 of them unless they are with the family…

As you have helped us in the past, I just want to remind you that Naomi is using an electric scooter but can walk a little bit to the table. If you could/would please once again put this request in for them, it would again be most appreciated.

And yes, the rest of family is jealous that they are going without us but we already have our next (my 20th, their 25th cruise booked for March 2011)…

I also want to tell you that I became “your friend” on Facebook even though I have felt like your friend for years… I love knowing what you are doing and what’s going on during the day so please keep on “facebooking” (is that a word???)… Although I do hate when you end your posts with “Wish you were here” because it makes me so jealous that I’m not…

Once again, thank you for your help with this and I hope you are having a great day…

Information… Carnival Miracle 10/18/10
Statement…. 4202
Booking #……______

And being Platinum, they are confirmed for early seating….

Luv U

John Says:
Hello Elaine

It will be an honour (spelt correctly) to send a request to the maitre d for a special table for Grandma and Poppy. Their loyalty to Carnival is wonderful and I will do all I can to make this a special cruise for them. I am glad you are enjoying the little Facebook thingies and hopefully you will be here one day soon.

Best wishes to you and all the family
John

Dan Lee Asked:
John,I know you have been asked this question before, but I’ve not seen a response from you so here is the question again. Does Carnival have plans to change the Platinum guest gifts? We have a number of picture frames, stationary etc. I appreciate the gifts, but I think an OBC would be a better gift for us. Or maybe a list of gifts to choose from.
We sail on the Dream Dec 11 2010; it will be number 16 cruises in 4 years.

We sailed with you on the Dream 2009, had lunch at the beach with you in Tortola. Wife/Me and 75 other cruisers. Remember??

Thanks
DAN

John Says:
Hello Dan Lee

I do indeed remember that wonderful day in Tortola, Dan, it was a great day and the scenery as we ate lunch was spectacular overlooking the beautiful blue sea. I know how frustrated some Platinum guests are with the fact that we continue to provide the same Platinum gift over and over again. How many photo frames can one person want? I have brought this up recently and I can promise you that even though the change may not be happening as quickly as you or I would like  …….it is happening and the whole loyalty program is being looked at very carefully by our brilliant marketing team. So, please try and find a dollop more patience and I will keep you all informed as to what is happening as soon as I know.

Until then may I say a huge thank you for your loyalty to Carnival and I hope to see you again very soon

Best wishes
John

Simone and Les Asked:
John,
(Please reply)

There have been lots of reports on Cruise Critic that Carnival is selling the Fantasy. Please tell me this isn’t so. We love the Fantasy and have sailed on it 4 times and now she is in Charleston it’s even better for us as we live in Hilton Head. If you are selling her will Charleston get another ship and if so which one.

Thank you
Simone and Les

John Says:
Hello Simone and Les

I have a feeling the person who started this rumor on Cruise Critic had probably just either smoked a palm tree or he is one of those troll people that enjoy talking rubbish on public opinion sites. We have no intention of selling the Carnival Fantasy. We have spent millions on an upgrade for her and we are very very happy with the way she has been received by the people of South Carolina and the surrounding area. So please go ahead and book cruise number five as whoever posted this rumor was talking total and utter bollocks………..again.

Best wishes to you both
John

Susan Gilleland Asked:
Dear John, Please Reply:

My parents just returned from a 5 day cruise on the Triumph. I was disappointed to learn that the staff on the Triumph still don’t have their act together in terms of getting Platinum self-assist guests off the ship first, as promised. My parents went to the main show lounge, as instructed on the letter they received in their cabin. Debarkation was begun without allowing the platinum guests to get in line first. By the time they realized the other guests were already leaving the ship, they had to fight their way into line, and they ended up behind about 250 guests waiting in line to clear Customs.

We have had this happen several times as well, and it really puts a damper on the debarkation experience. For us, one of the top perks of being Platinum is being able to get off the ship in that first group. It saves quite a bit of time, and with two young children, it is definitely a wonderful thing to breeze through Customs in the first group of 10 or 20 people. We will be on the Triumph with our children September 11-18, and I certainly hope the staff takes better care of its Platinum guests during debarkation than they did this past Thursday. This should be a perk we receive automatically; we should not have to repeatedly seek out staff members to make sure they follow through with the appropriate debarkation protocol.

We love Carnival, and we can’t wait to board the Triumph next weekend!

John Says:
Hello Susan Gilleland

Yes indeed, one of the many perks of the Platinum cruiser enjoys is that they are first off the ship. Now sometimes this also depends on when luggage is in place and that depends on the clearance that the people in charge give us. Those people are of course United States Customs and Border Protection. They will allow guests off the ship who are on self assist, meaning that they have all their own luggage with them but may not give clearance to guests who have left luggage outside of their cabin door. This means that although the ship is ready, permission may not have been granted. Were you on self assist?

However, I will certainly make sure that the hotel director of the Carnival Triumph sees this and I know he will look into this carefully. There should be a private area for Platinum guests to meet as you said and my apologies for any inconvenience caused. Please let me know how the latest debarkation went would you. Thank you for your loyalty and I hope you had a brilliant cruise

Best wishes
John

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John,

Please Reply,

I know I told you of the wonderful time my brother had on the Carnival Paradise, but the one thing he commented on was how much the staff in the dining room enjoyed the singing and dancing for the guests. He then proceeded to tell me about an incident that happened when he was on a RCL ship. One of the waiter’s took the microphone and said that the Maitre ‘D made over $6,000 a month and the waiters earned $5.00 a day and that is when he told the Maitre D where he could take the job. My brother said that even before this happened you could feel the tension in the main dining room. I know my brother was surprised at the amount the Maitre D earned, so he did not give him a tip on that cruise, but he did tip “007″, because he took the time to come by every night and ask how everything was and he also asked if we needed anything. Like I told you, my brother and sister-in-law are hooked on Carnival.

Please give a hug to Kye from one of her American Aunties and also give mu love to Heidi.

From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

Wow, that’s quite a story. Obviously I can’t discuss how much any crew member makes on our ships. I will say though that I receive so many great comments here on the blog thingy about who wonderful our maitre d’s are and tipping them is purely at the guest’s discretion. I have never heard of an incident like this on one of our ships although many years ago a waiter did smack one of the food and beverage managers over the head with a large pepper mill. Both the waiter and the pepper mill are no longer onboard. It never ceases to amaze me how each and every week on each and every ship, 50-plus nationalities representing every creed, colour and religion all get on so very well.

Thanks for sharing the story and I hope to see you soon

Best wishes to all
John

JOEY G Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY SEMI URGENT

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

John Says:
Hello Joey G

Please never feel like you can’t ask me for anything as that’s what I am here for. I am so thankful to you for your loyalty and of course it will be my pleasure to ask the maitre d on the Carnival Miracle to help you with this dining request. Have a brilliant cruise and thanks so much for the kind words of support.

Best wishes
John

Sea2See Asked:
John, Please replyI have been reading your blog and must mention really do not like your vulgarity and condescending gutter humor. But I will admit that having someone to go to to arrange table reservations and such is a benefit to us cruisers. My suggestion is then that you dismiss with the jokes and attempted humor or write 2 blogs with one having the questions and requests answered and another with all the other stories etc that most probably don’t read anyway. Just a thought

John Says:
Hello See2See

I realise that my brand of humour is not for everyone but honestly I don’t have time to organise two different blogs. Please though do let me know if you need something and I will do my best to make it happen for you. I hope my humour does not offend you and that you enjoy reading the parts of the blog that contain useful and fun information.

Best wishes
John

Michelle Mann Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY

Hi John

Missing you here in Thorpe Bay.
Love the dancing and singing at dinner time, and thanks for a great blog/video today.

John we have had to change our Magic booking till Aug 26 instead of July, our friends and family are joining us are all hoping you will be sailing with us at that time. Now the question…

I am thinking of booking the May 1st sailing for just Dave and me (birthday treat to myself) do you know if the naming ceremony will take place on that Venice cruise or wait till it arrives in Barcelona. It’s probably too early to know but if you hear anything regarding this can you keep us informed.

Many thanks take care and hope Heidi and Kye have a safe journey.
Michelle and gang

John Says:
Hello Michelle

That’s weird. You just sent me a Facebook request which I said “Yes, be my friend” to and here you are again on the blog thingy. It will be wonderful to see you and Dave and certainly the inaugural cruise will be very special. Plans are already being made for the naming ceremony in Barcelona and obviously as they become clearer I will let you know more. I am sure you have seen the ship on carnivalmagic.com and I hope to visit her very soon in the yard. Hope all is well back home and please have some Oriana for me

Best wishes to all
John

That’s all for today and thanks once again for another great week of comments.

Now for those of you who are joining me on the Bloggers Cruise here is an important message from one of the 344 Stephanies……Stephanie H

Hi Bloggers.

We are excited to share that we’ve now made it easier to sign up for the upcoming Bloggers Cruise. If you booked your sailing on the Carnival Glory and would like to be included in the Bloggers-only events you can now click the link I will provide to you below and fill out the form. It’s that easy. For those of you who have already booked the Bloggers Cruise using the “PBL” farecode, be assured…we’ve got you down and you do not have to use the sign up form. 🙂

Here’s the link: http://surv.cheetahmail.com/s?n=382&aid=982238741&o=1

I have also included this link on the side panel of the blog for easy access. If anyone has any questions, feel free to email socialnetworking@carnival.com.

Happy sailing everyone.
Stephanie H.

As I mentioned on Facebook, the Carnival Conquest was forced to miss both Grand Cayman and Jamaica this cruise because of bad weather. And while the vast majority of guests understand that this is way beyond any cruise lines control there are still those who aren’t as understanding obviously. Having been in this situation many times I know exactly what the ship’s crew is going through and in particular I know what the Cruise Director Chris Jefferson is having to deal with. Well luckily this cruise he has SWAT team of fun onboard with him……yep, it’s Host Mach and the Cruise Crazies. This morning Mach sent me this report:

Hello, my friend

What can I say? The world full of twits and bastards.

Chris and Sam, the ACD, have had a hard row to hoe to be sure. I’ve got to tell you that the entire staff, from Marvin Barrantes, the Hotel Director, to our cabin steward have been wonderful. The Conquest and her staff and crew continue to be my favorite for all the right reasons.

Yesterday, in typical Crazies fashion, about a dozen of us sat at a table on the Lido Deck across from the bar and cheered every Carnival employee as they walked by. We wanted them to know that we, at least, appreciated all they do for us. One of our folks described it as ‘inciting a riot of FUN!’ Brilliant… simply brilliant.

Cozumel is gorgeous this morning and the Crazies will be invading Nachi Cocom in short order for a day of fun in the sun, playing in the blue water and loving life in general. I hope that the people who were so negative yesterday can enjoy a day on shore and come back a bit humbled and a bit more realistic.

Please feel free to add this on the blog. I want EVERYONE to know what a fantastic job the staff of our Carnival Conquest has done.

Please send along our love to Heidi and Kye.

Thanks, John!

All the best.
Mach

Well Mach, I want to tell you that you and your group are amazing people. On yesterday’s blog I had mentioned how Chris had said that you and the Crazies had been his biggest supporters and I want to say a HUGE thank you to you all. Sitting on Promenade cheering the crew is something I have never heard of before and I have sent this report to some very high up beards. Thanks mate, I hope you have smooth seas on the way home and please thank everyone for being there and for being fun.

There is nothing more thrilling than seeing a new ship being built and here are some great shots of the latest Seabourn uber-luxury yacht “ Seabourn Quest”………..what a great name……….what an extraordinary ship

I was discussing something on my Facebook thingy yesterday and wanted to mention it here as well. While my cabin is bigger than most of the crew cabins it certainly isn’t big enough to have a crib and all of Kye’s toys in. Also, it’s hard for me to write a blog and make announcements and run a ship when your beautiful daughter’s big brown eyes beg you to come and play blocks and Playdoodoo with her. So, I have been buying them a guest cabin so I can at least work and they can play and nap and do Mummy and Daughter things. But I have been sleeping with them in the guest cabin and I have learnt quite a few things these past few weeks that prove that for the most part……….hotel service can’t compare. Here they are.

1. The stateroom stewards.

It’s not until you actually live in a guest cabin and get the same treatment we give the guests each and every week that you actually realise just what an important part of the cruise experience they are. My steward Ketut is a wonderful young man and anyone who can handle my underpants is a brave and courageous man but my goodness, the guest stewards are totally brilliant as well. They are the front line in our endeavors to have the guest called by name and all week they have been doing this. I hear them loud and clear saying “Good morning Mrs. Dinglebury” and “Did you have a nice day in port Mr. Wigglebottom?” and it made me feel proud of them every time.

We are in an inside cabin……..yes I was too cheap to buy an outside……and in the deck seven balcony cabin in front of us are three grown women. I have seen the cabin door open and the war zone that three women can create with clothes and potions and brushes and clothes and, and and. I have also seen what Dario our Filipino steward and his assistant Lizbetta have it looking like for when they get back…….clean, tidy, organised and that’s a miracle. I told Dario this and he smiled and said the only thing he didn’t like was the smell of the different perfumes because it made him feel light headed…………poor chap.

Obviously the towel animals are a nice touch and Kye was in tears the other night when I used the elephant to dry myself off on after a shower. But they do much more. Scrubbing, cleaning and arranging and they do it to multiple cabins. They are fantastic and as I said…… a major part of the Carnival cruise experience. Compare that to the person who cleans your hotel room who let’s face it are mostly faceless individuals who even if you are staying a week at the property won’t know your name. Maybe it’s two different animals……but value for money and experience wise ………and in my opinion……..hotels can’t compare.

One footnote: This week a stateroom steward was separating the garbage which is another job we over look sometimes that they have to do. He was wearing thin rubber gloves but a guest had put a loose razor blade in the garbage buried amongst paper and other items……he needed 4 stitches. Please, either leave your razor blades in position where they can be seen and don’t put them in a garbage bin or you can ask your steward for a sharps container.

2. The Television

I love the fact that when you walk in the cabin….it’s off. What do I mean about that? Well …….nothing annoys me more than walking into a hotel room to find the television blaring away with some canned music and a message welcoming me to the hotel. You then have to spend 10 minutes trying to turn the sodding thing off. Bring back the hand-written note from the general manager I say.

And that leads me nicely to my next point. On both Holland America and Cunard there was a welcome letter from either Stein Kruse or Peter Shanks (the brands’ company presidents, respectively) on the table next to the bottle of water. Ours is locked away in the cabin directory and I think Gerry Cahill deserves better than this. It would be really nice to have this placed in a more prominent position. Back to the TV then and compared to most other lines we have the best network coverage in the industry and our pay per view movies are OK but not as good as the hotel chains ………and no I am not talking about Latvian rumpy pumpy movies which hotels have lots of……allegedly.  Oh and I am going to ask again about getting Fox News. I personally couldn’t give two shiny you-know-whats but I am pretty fed up with getting this comment each and every week.

And then there is the clock………I wish I had a dollar for everyone who asks that the cabins have clocks.  What’s interesting here is that the staterooms on Cunard and Holland America didn’t have one either. There is one on the TV of course and maybe we need to make sure that guests are aware of this…………and that’s my job of course. Overall, I think our cabin TV system is excellent. Only thing missing……..in-cabin internet access………not wireless……..we already have that……I am talking about internet through the TV again just like some hotels. I am sure guests would really appreciate that.

3. Laundry

What is so difficult about getting a suit pressed? If hotels must insist on you using their laundry service by refusing to stash irons and ironing boards inside room closets, at least they should make sure there’s a workable alternative. If I have arrived at the hotel after a day of meetings with Miami based beards and I need a shirt washed and pressed for the next morning, what’s the sodding problem? And why do hotels charge an outrageous fortune to wash and clean anything? I have never used this $15 laundry bag promotion we have on the ship until I filled it with Kye’s and Heidi’s clothes and the very next morning that large bag comes back, wash, folded and hung up. All for $15. Except my underpants…they charge danger money for them. Not content with forcing you to take out a second mortgage in order to enjoy a late night Diet Coke from the mini bar, hotels have cottoned on to the idea of spreading the contents of the minibar around the room to tempt you. Often this takes the form of a room tray packed with goodies and you’re never quite sure if they are free – the price list is often tucked away inside the minibar. The worst culprit is the expensive bottle of mineral water sitting by your bedside. In a hotel I recently glugged a half litre bottle of water only to find out later it cost $7.99. At Carnival, a litre of water is $3.95, Diet Coke is $1.95 and a Bacardi miniature is $5.75…..is that so expensive compared to most hotels? ……nope………I don’t think so.  I brought this subject up on my Facebook Page and received loads and loads of comments. And it was probably evenly spread between those who do use it and enjoy a late night drink on the balcony and those who don’t. So I guess the question here is ……..do you use the mini bar? Oh and smugglers………I already know that you use it to keep your contraband cold.

4. Bathrobes

A hotel isn’t a good hotel without a beautiful fluffy white robe hanging up behind the bathroom door yet so many hotels make unforgiveable mistakes with them. Some hotels seem to have forgotten what fabric softener is putting on the robe is like wearing a large piece of sandpaper. But worse than that is the belt. I realise that hotels have to put robes into the laundry every time a guest leaves but surely it’s not too much trouble for someone to loop the belt back through. When room service knocks on the door, you either spend valuable minutes trying to tie the belt or risk revealing your thingy to the person who has come to show you how to turn the bloody TV off. We have bathrobes and they are in all the cabins despite rumors that they are for the suite life only. And they are soft, very soft and the belt is always looped through properly. I know this because I checked. We also have them for kids and most hotels don’t because they don’t really like children in the first place. However, even though I have lost quite a bit of weight……one size does not fit all……and as blog regular Big Ed will tell you I have been a massive failure to him and the other extra medium gusts who sail with us. Having stayed in a guest cabin these past few weeks….I am determined not to give up……I will get extra large bathrobes made available… even if it means I walk down the Promenade Deck wearing one that doesn’t fit…….just to prove my point. I will you know………..it’s no big thing(y).

5. Light switches

Hotels love mood lighting and I guess I do as well. I like to walk into a room and see a tasteful mix of different ceiling lights, lamps and desk lamps. But what drives me absolutely bonkers is getting into a hotel bed only to realise that I then have to do a grand tour of the room trying light switches in order to make the room dark. One mother of all switches by the bedside would keep me happy. And here I am sorry to say we are no different. The one by the door to the cabin turns the ceiling spots off but the one above the bed and around the mirror can only be turned off by the switch by the mirror. If I have confused you then it’s because it’s confusing and like hotels our light switches are not labeled. Luckily we keep the lights off because Kye is asleep although it also helps that I don’t catch sight of myself naked in the mirror. Yep, we can do better with the light switches.

6.  Room Service

For me, a good BLT sandwich on wheat bread with lashings of mayonnaise is the only antidote to a CD conference or a meeting with those beards. So you look at the hotel in room dining menu and you chose the club sandwich even though it costs $14.95. And when it arrives the room service person hands you the check to sign which of course is hidden in one of those leather wallet things. Your pen is poised to sign for the $14.95 but then you see it isn’t $14.95 because what with taxes and service charge the three pieces of cold turkey and two slices of bacon has suddenly cost you $47……and the guy is looking at you with his hand open ready to receive a tip. Not wanting to appear cheap because you are in a business hotel and you are a business person with his or her finger on the pulse of industry you tip the guy and as he leaves you realise that you are going to have to sell your children for medical experiments just to afford to pay for it.

Obviously, our room service is free and yes, it may take some time to get your order because it’s a long walk and because free room service is popular. So please be patient with them. And if they get the order correct and if they are polite, please tip them…..$1 will do. It’s heartbreaking seeing them deliver a huge tray of food just to have the door slammed in their face without a tip or a thank you. I think most of us do tip our room service staff but some I can tell you don’t ……. and I hate to belabor the point……..but there’s no extra charge. By the way, our chicken fajitas are excellent and next time ask for cheddar cheese with your BLT……..that’s my favourite.

7.  The Carnival Comfort Bed

Not much to say here except soft sleep inducing pillows, a cushioned duvet and crisp cotton blend sheets. It is the perfect place on which to drift off with dreams of the sea day just gone and the exciting day in port you have planned tomorrow……or if you’re like me…..to dream of Megan Fox’s bottom and a bucket of soapy water.

8.  Noise

Well, as I mentioned on my Facebook page, I have been surprised by the amount of noise guests make when they are walking down the corridor which I’m sure happens on other cruise lines as well. I don’t mean the odd one or two who are sponsored by Budweiser or the noise Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit may make in the cabin next door… nope, I mean just everyday guests who walk to and from their cabins talking as though the person they are with is 300 meters away. And they do this at all times of the night. And then there is something else…..the slamming of doors ……. why do people have to slam doors? Maybe the doors are thicker in hotel rooms – thus harder to slam – and hotel guests are just bored out of their minds returning from a conference or the dreadful, overpriced food rather than returning energized from a great show or a meal at the steakhouse like on a Carnival ship.  Whatever the reason, having been woken a few times by banging doors and 2 am by the Waltons shouting goodnight to each other …….as of next week I am going to mention “Consideration for your fellow guests, etc” ……. or……is that something that guests may find offensive…….not sure …… what do you think?……..Would I be over stepping my bounds if I did so? But overall the cabins are fantastic, offering excellent comfort and service at an unbeatable price……. I think they are bloody marvelous. I can only imagine what a balcony or a suite must be like.

So here we are in Cabo and for the most part the guests have been excellent this week. Last night’s Talent Show and Bedtime Story went well and apart from some guest asking Heidi if she “was the cruise director’s bitch” they have been superb. It was good that I wasn’t there when the guests said that and if I had have been I am not sure how I would have reacted…..I probably wouldn’t be here writing this to you now though. Say what you like to me…..but my wife and family are out of bounds.

Time for a break……….here’s a quick clip from this week’s Marriage Show.

And now let me grade the following incident with an “A” for effort and imagination.

Guest: Mr. ———Ref: 842002301A
Cabin: ——– Booking#: _______ Added-Changed: 09/30/10 – 09/30/10

CABIN ——- UNHAPPY WITH SECURITY
Gst advised that two bottles of tequila were confiscated at the gangway by ship security. Guest states that he needs the tequila for medical purposes as pain relief for arthritis. Guest was informed that they would be returned on the last night of the cruise.

I am not saying he does not have arthritis and I hope he doesn’t have too much pain this week but ………..I wonder what doctor would prescribe tequila as pain management for this …….. maybe my doctor could prescribe a chocolate melting cake for my diabetes.

Yesterday I showed you a video from 1983 and you saw the irrepressible Bill Panoff wearing a shirt with no buttons. Want to talk about the very first time I went on stage.

It was 1988 and I was a very attractive and slim assistant bar manager. OK, I was about as attractive as a hemorrhoid on a baboon’s bottom but I was slim…OK….slim………er.

I used to stand at the back of the theater on the Holiday. It was called the Americana Lounge and watch the king of the ship entertain. That king was the cruise director and how I dreamed of being king. I dreamt this for many reasons including having a bathroom in my cabin so I didn’t have to share one with 10 other people and it would be nice to have to pee in the sink.

The kings back then were Bill Panoff, Gary Hunter, Kenny Day, Malcolm Kennedy, Dave Armor, Eddie Capone, Bob Goss, Bob Hamill, David Fee, but not some Elvis impersonator called Gene Cook….…..he was an idiot and had no more right to be a cruise director than a paper clip.

Anyway, I befriended the cruise directors and, much to the annoyance of the bar manager, a chap called El Sappo, I started spending any spare time I had with them and the entertainment staff. Well, one day I was approached by an old friend and brilliant stand-up comedian Lewis Nixon to help him on stage. Now…….this should have set the alarm bells ringing because Lewis and I had already started a vicious campaign of practical jokes against each other.

This had started when I had emptied an entire bottle of Tabasco sauce into his cup of coffee and his next sip had caused him much pain. He responded by getting into my cabin, emptying all my clothes leaving just condoms on the hangers a note that read….…“If you are going to act like a (euphemism for thingy) you can dress like one.”

Anyway, as I said, Lewis asked me to help him on stage and specifically to say goodbye to his friend and mine and Carnival’s best-ever cruise director………..Gary Hunter.

Gary, as I may have mentioned before, was my mentor and I can still only dream about being half as good as he was and still is. Gary had a ventriloquist act and his lifelike puppets were two old characters called Mr. and Mrs. Tweed. I won’t give too much of his act away as he is still performing, but I will tell you that his show would have the audience crying with laughter and then crying tears of sadness as Mr. and Mrs. Tweed sang “Yes, I remember it well.”

Now, I could do an OK impression of Gary’s boy next door Southern accent and so it was that Lewis approached me. He told me that as this was Gary’s last week onboard before vacation that he needed my help in paying tribute to him during the last night’s show.

I would play the part of Gary and he and the magician Gaetano (whose brilliant show can be seen on the Caribbean Princess) would play the part of Mr. and Mrs. Tweed. Well, I jumped at the chance to be on stage and we started to rehearse. Gaetano and Lewis had costumes just like the puppets and we went through all of Gary’s routine. I would squeeze the backs of their necks and they would open their mouths…..it was going to be brilliant.

Well, it was soon show time. I had gone through the show one last time backstage with Lewis and Gaetano before the show and now there I stood at the side of the stage ready to perform. The theater was packed….and there I stood…..dressed in my white assistant bar manager’s uniform ……….it was not a good day to be my underpants.

Then, came the announcement: “Please welcome to the stage your host tonight, Assistant Bar Manager John Heald.”

And up I went to what can only be described as lukewarm applause.

I took the microphone and there I was…….for the first ever time…….on a Carnival stage…… ready to entertain the expectant audience.

I introduced myself and remember saying how we would all miss Gary……..and in tribute to him we would like to present a special performance. I then reverted to my Gary Hunter voice and asked the audience to please give a big round of applause to my puppets….Mr. and Mrs. Tweed ………………………. nothing.

Maybe they hadn’t heard me.

So once again I said…….please welcome Mr. and Mrs. Tweed …………….. Still nothing.

Silence from the audience.

I stood rooted to the spot………what had happened?………I didn’t know what to do……I had the improv skills of a jellyfish……still, no sign of the puppets …..And silence from the audience………..until………from the back of the room I hear:

“You suck”
“Get off the stage”
“Boooooo”

I knew how Thomas the Obama look alike felt the other day.

All of the above was shouted out by the unmistakable voice of……….Lewis Nixon.

I had been totally and royally screwed………….oh double bugger!

Then the audience started to boo and it got louder and was followed by a slow hand clap.

Now, if this had happened a few years later I am sure I would have been better prepared to get myself out of this situation. However, I was an assistant bar manager…..so I just said “Oh, bollocks” over the microphone and buggered off backstage, ran down to my cabin and……………………..changed my underpants.

See you on Monday.

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.