Doris and Alan

October 19, 2010 -

John Heald

Swings and soundabouts……..that’s what life is like on a cruise ship. Yesterday we had a comment from a guest of the Islamic faith about having the service dogs in the dining room and now the pendulum swings the other way……….as you will see now.

Guest: Mrs. ——-Ref: 842023517A
Cabin: ————Added-Changed: 10/18/10 – 10/18/10

COMMENT ON GUESTS IN CABIN ****

Mr. _______ came to the desk asking to speak to a supervisor in private. I spoke with guest in the lobby who stated that his young children were scared of the people in the cabin next door because the ladies were wearing Muslim dresses with their faces covered. Mr.________ said they found it very disturbing. And that they wanted another cabin. GSS apologized but said that the ship was full and there were no open cabins. Mrs.________ asked that if any other cabins came open that she would be allowed to change.

Letter sent to guest and follow up call today.

I wanted to talk about this comment which I must admit has rather shocked me. Before I do though I wanted to tell you about the time I was Fun Ship Freddy. I am sorry …….. I should have put a parental guidance notice on this bit and I apologize to anyone reading this who thought that Fun Ship Freddy, The Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and Barney the sodding Dinosaur were real.

Anyway, when Freddy first joined us I agreed to be the funnel headed one but only if no one knew that it was me inside……..and yes…..I can fit into the costume …. Just barely.

I’m obviously quite well known when I am a CD onboard so I thought that it would be novel to stroll around in front of 3,000 people and not be recognized.

The outfit was quite heavy and hot, with just a small slit at eye level to stop me walking into things. Before the show started, I wandered around the promenade deck and showroom, waving to the guests and having my photo taken with small children and some adults. Such is the role of the mascot.

For these photos, I adopted my regulation warm-hearted grin but after I’d posed for about 20 such shots, it occurred to me that this was completely unnecessary because I couldn’t be seen. I was getting a bit bored and hot by now and it was a real treat to not have to look happy and enthusiastic.

Come photograph number 100 I was actually scowling …. but no one could tell. I farted in that costume and nobody heard although being trapped inside a mascot costume having just released a crop of curry farts is not pleasant let me tell you. But that aside it really was a wonderful way to be out among the guests who loved Freddy and wanted to hug and kiss him and yet little did they know that inside was a fat old CD who for once in his life could have a bad day at work and not worry about it.

This was a truly liberating experience and I was thinking of my time under the veil of Fun Ship Freddy after reading the comment made about the ladies who are wearing the traditional Islamic Burka.

I can understand that if you are not used to it these veil-clad figures can look disconcerting but there is nothing to fear.

So, even though he has not asked to speak to me I will call the guest and that is what I will be explaining.

It’s certainly been an interesting cruise so far and I will tell you more about why later. But first……..let’s crack on with some Q & A.

Marsha Breen Asked:
John – Please Reply

It’s good to see I’m not the only one that gets tired of this “I’m a member of Cruise Critic” bunch that seem to think that makes them better than everyone else. It’s not like you have to pay a membership fee or take a test to belong to CC. All you have to do is sign up – gee that’s difficult. I used to read Cruise Critic all the time to glean information for upcoming trips, but not anymore. I want nothing to do with it because of the constant bitching and negativity of so many posters.

John – I know you feel that you need to post both negative and positive comments/questions here, but since this is “YOUR BLOG”, why don’t you stop posting those really nasty comments or requests? If someone can’t even say “please” when they ask for a table like Matthew Green did today, then why don’t you just ignore their request? Just have Stephanie #387 delete those posts so you don’t have to mess with them. Think about the time you’d save not looking or responding to those posts (and it would help save your eyes!!!) Nasty posters like Marshall J. Gruskin are just looking for a platform to spew their venom and get everyone riled up. If they don’t see their comments in print then maybe people like that would stop with the nasty and vile attacks on you and Carnival cruisers in general. You shouldn’t have to waste your time with people like this – you are busy enough as it is. (Off my soapbox now……)

John Says:
Hello Marsha Breen

Thanks for taking the rime to write Marsha and for your very kind words of support. I to get a bit bored with the few who use the Cruise Critic mantel as a right to post some quite rude and abrasive remarks. The problem is though that it is these few that are giving the Cruise Critic members a bad name because the vast majority are wonderful passionate cruisers who love cruising. Many of them as you know write on this blog as well. So it is important that I remember that. My friend Host Mach has the task of moderating the Carnival boards and I know that the few who post such ridiculous conspiracy theories and downright rude comments on here are the same people who do the same on Cruise Critic. He and I often talk about how the few give the many a bad reputation.

I once made a promise way back when I started this blog that I would post the good and the bad and the ugly because I didn’t want this blog thingy to be a corporate “everything in the garden is rosy ” blog. But I am going to be a little more selective in the future I think and try and continue with the other principles of fun and information making them the defining characteristics of what we do here. As long as I have readers like you how I know will support me through thick and thin I know we will be OK.

Thanks so much.

Best wishes
John

Christine Schuster Asked:
Hi John,

Love your blog!!! I read it every morning so I can start my day off with good laugh. My husband daughter & I will be traveling on the Carnival Splendor the Week of Sept 26th. This will be our third cruise with Carnival. Sept 27th is our 30th wedding anniversary (I kept telling him how lucky he is to be marry to me all those years). Who can I talk to on the ship to arrange a bottle of Champagne to be at our table for dinner that night? We are in cabin # 6328

Thank you for your help

John Says:
Hello Christine Schuster

Oh bugger……I missed this one. You left the ship a few weeks ago. Did you get your bottle of champagne? Did we meet, did you have fun? I hope so and please let me know if you can. I am so sorry but I am 3 weeks behind on my answers and therefore I just saw your comment now. Please post again and let me know all was well. It was wonderful to have you onboard

Best wishes
John

Keighty Asked:

Oh my god. Cindyx5 is the worst Cruise Critic snob of them all today. Nobody gives two sh*ts if you’re a member of Cruise Critic. A free website doesn’t entitle you to anything special. Get over yourself.

In case you were mislead, Cruise Critic members are not the only customers of the cruising world, and a few @ssholes negative comments aren’t going to tank an entire company. So don’t waste your breath.

John Says:
Hello Keighty

It’s strange but since posting that extremely negative comment Cindyx5 has not been heard of since. I was told by my friend Host Mach that on Cruise Critic they have people who are known as trolls. These troglodytes post and run thus poisoning the good name of Cruise Critic. Let’s hope Cindy has returned to her cave.

Best wishes and thanks for the support
John

CruisinSue Asked:
Hi John (Please reply)

First of all, I know how happy you are to have the girls with you. Next, I loved the picture of you and Corey. I cruised with Corey 5-6 times in the late 90′s, early 2000′s. He didn’t know it but I really thought I was going to marry him someday….LOL Seriously, I did think he was the best CD ever, until I cruised with you and Todd. He has been very successful. Secondly, I am cruising with my mom and Carolyn and Don on the Carnival Miracle on October 18. This cruise is my gift to mom to celebrate her 73rd birthday. (Even if it is a few months late) She is a milestone cruiser with CCL. I am curious if you could send her a little something to our cabin to help her celebrate? The past fews days have been rough since one of our dearest family friends was tragically killed when his vehicle fell on him, so she is so looking forward to “getting away”. Our cabin on the Carnival Miracle is 7206. Any little thing you could do for her would be most appreciated.

Lastly, to Cindy who seemed so unhappy with her CCL cruise. I have been on 47 Carnival cruises on all of the ships except 4. I have never had any “horrible” experiences that you describe. As for your injured son, I am sure he would have gotten gratis a medical checkup if you had asked, since he was injured on their equipment. You said your teen was “roaming” the ship with other teens. I sure hope they weren’t out terrorizing the other passengers and destroying the ship. That has been my experience with teens roaming around unsupervised. I hope you choose not to back on a Carnival Cruise. I cruise 5-6 times a year, all on Carnival and sure would not want to encounter you or your nasty attitude.
Thank you John for letting me vent. Give my best to Heidi and Kye. Enjoy your time with them.

Hugs to all!
Gloria aka Sue

John Says:
Hello Cruisin Sue

By the time you read this I am sure you will be on board the Carnival Miracle and having the best of times. I was so sorry to read about your loss and I have asked Malcolm the CD to send your Mum a little something from me. Have a brilliant cruise and tell us all about it when you get home.

Best wishes to you both
John

Rita Simmons Asked:
Please Respond –

John:

I have never cruised with you as a CD, but would love to since I have read so much about you and you have provided such wonderful information to all cruisers.

Here is my request – after cruising with Carnival since 1981 I have to say my last cruise in January 2010 on the Carnival Dream, was not so dreamy. Let me just say that I had a group of 31 and we were all disappointed in the MDR. It was a BIG disappointment each night – especially after having 3 different servers. After all of my 21 cruises I have never complained about the service in the MDR and after day 2 I had to, for the fact that I had many that were first time cruisers and not wanting to go to the MDR because of LACK of service. The first night the MDR was empty of cruisers, except for our tables and I was disappointed that I could not enjoy my meal because of announcements being made to clear the Dining area and for those to help out others for the next seating. We paid our cruise fare just like all the others, we had no choice in picking where we were seated and the servers that served us. Some MDR experiences were better as the week went on, some not. We will be again cruising on the Carnival Freedom on a Back-to-Back cruise starting on January 23rd and ending on February 6, 2011. I will have 7 others sailing with me on these cruises and we just hope to have a wonderful Dining Room and cruise experience this time. We have chosen early seating and I was wondering if you could be of assistance, since I do not feel that when I wrote to Carnival Guest Relations that they put themselves in my place. If you need any additional information on the previous cruises and the letter that I provided to Carnival, please let me know.

John, I will THANK YOU for all that I know that you can do to provide our dining and Back-to-Back cruising experience a success in Jan/Feb 2011. I have trust in you, since reading your BLOG and all of the assistance that you provide to all of your cruising family.

I know this cruise is four months away and that you are a very busy CD and wanted to give you the time to help us out, if at all possible.

Thank you so much,
Rita

John Says:
Hello Rita Simmons

I was very disappointed to read about the problems you had in the dining room on your Carnival Dream. Let me do the most important thing and apologise to you and all your group and I promise that I will address this with the appropriate people immediately. I am not sure why you had 3 different servers but obviously it’s hard for them to get to know you and vice versa when this happens. There is a very tight schedule between early and late dining and the staff are under a lot of pressure to prepare the tables in less than a 30 minute interval. That’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact and obviously if people are seated there it makes it difficult for them to do so. However, it also makes it an uncomfortable experience for the guests who feel like we are rushing them. Anyway, let’s look to the future and start by me thanking you for booking a back to back cruise on the Carnival Freedom. I am positive that you will have the best of dining experiences and I will keep this post on file and let the Maitre D know when you cruise is here to keep a special eye on you. Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

Best wishes to you all
John

Linda Bigus Asked:

To Richard Higuain, Matthew Green, and CindyX5…THE BIG CRUISE CRITIC MEMBERS! I have been on over 50 cruises, and cruised on many different ships. A CRUISE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT! First, Richard every hear of manners? You cannot take your precious time to read John’s Blog, but would you send my wife a present??? Cheap A**, buy her one YOURSELF!!. You, and Matthew also from Cruise Critic who wants a table but has no manners to say Please and Thank you make me want to vomit! Now to CindyX5. Not all cruises are perfect. And, NO RCCL does not give free soda, unless it’s for dinner, and that may have changed since the last time I was on one of their ships. I am actually a Cruise Critic member, a new one, however, I want nothing to do with any of you entitlement mongers, snobbish, arses that don’t have a lick of sense or manners. This is John’s blog. Get off of it!!, As we love it, and John. It’s so sad that some of you make all of Cruise Critic people look like pompous, arrogant jerks! Too bad all 3 of you have not had to deal with real life struggles, which make every cruise a gift for most of us, that your stupidity in your writing makes you look like idiots. Do us all a favor…go away!

John Says:
Hello Linda Bigus

That was a very passionate post indeed and I couldn’t agree with you more when you say that some people “make all of Cruise Critic people look like pompous, arrogant jerks” because as I have said here today twice already……most are far, far from that. It’s probably… no….it’s definitely my fault for posting these comments yet I feel guilty when I don’t. Anyway, yours was a brilliant post and you said many of the things that I wanted to say but really couldn’t.

Thanks so much for your support

Best wishes and I hope we get to sail together soon
John

Jason K Asked:
Please reply

Hi John.

I am a certified chiropractor and wanted to offer my services to the crew when I am on the Freedom in December. I know that the dancers may need my help and maybe the crew who lift heavy objects. My prices will be very cheap indeed. If this is something you would like me to do please reply and I will send you all the details. I will need a room in which operate.

Thanks
Jason K

John Says:
Hello Jason K

Thanks so much for thinking of the crew and yes; I know some of the dancers have chiropractic needs for sure. I checked with the office in Miami and there are certain liabilities which mean that we won’t be able to take you up on your kind offer. I am sure your services would have been beneficial and thank you very much for thinking of our crew.

Have a brilliant cruise

Best wishes
John

Renaud Asked:
John, (please reply)

Recently I cruised on the Carnival Dream and had a great time on it. I do have a question if this is now fleet wide or others. On my last Carnival Cruise on board the Carnival Victory (I believe you were the CD at the time) the “Carnival Legends” Talent show was entertaining but something was missing. On the Dream the addition of the Carnival Dancers for the singing passengers was a much needed addition and made the show that more entertaining. My question is when did that start? If I may also ask, whose idea was it? They should be commended!

Renaud Urban

John Says:
Hello Renaud

Carnival Legends is now on all of our ships that operate itineraries of five or more days in length. This show was conceived by a wonderful young lady called Kerry Stables who started life with us a dancer. She is responsible for most of our current production shows and is as we speak re-writing the Legends show to feature different world famous “Legends.” I shall certainly pass on your congratulations and maybe one day you can star in the show.

Thanks for the kind words

Best wishes
John

That’s all for today, there will be more of course soon.

Actually, there won’t be a blog tomorrow as I have a film crew onboard with me and I will be spending the entire day filming. However, I will make a video especially for the blog which will be posted tomorrow. It will just be a chat, a message from me to you and I will be back with normal blog service on Thursday.

So, what’s been happening here? Well apart from Labradors and Burkas the guests are really having a great time I think. Showing the Monday Night Football game on the Seaside Theatre Big Screen has been a huge success and we also have some new big screen movies this week including:

INVITICUS

CLASH OF THE TITANS

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

THE A TEAM

WHEN IN ROME

THE BOOK OF ELI

DATE NIGHT

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON

Now immediately I haven’t heard of most of those but then I don’t get to go to the movies very much. I am sure they will be popular though even though the A Team remake was in my humble opinion………absolute bollocks.

One thing that has become an instant hit here on the Carnival Splendor is of course Superstar Live. For those of you who don’t know what this is let me explain that its basically live Karaoke. Instead of singing Poke Me in the Face by Lady Gar Gar accompanied by a CD or EyePod you sing along to a live four piece rock band.

We opened Superstar Live here on Saturday night and since then it has been as popular as anything we do here and then some. It is what everyone’s talking about and so much so that one of the UK’s most prestigious travel writers came to see it for himself. His name is Frank Barrett and he is the travel editor for the Mail On Sunday, one of the UK’s largest and most influential newspapers. Now Frank has traveled the world and has seen pretty much everything there is to see and experienced many wondrous things. But…deep down inside this brilliant writer …….. wants to be a rock star. He has dreams of limos and Latvians and even though we couldn’t provide him with either of those, we did allow him to open the proceedings of Superstar Live by sitting in with the band and playing piano on Chuck Berry’s classic hit “Johnny Be Good.” And let me tell you, Frank was smokin’ hot as they say in the world of rock and roll.

Here’s a few photos of Frank in action.

And here are a few photos of guests enjoying their Superstar moment

And here are the three chaps responsible for setting this up across the fleet.

From left to right we have Rob King, Tim Cabral and Jonathan Archer. They have given the ships a wonderful activity and a chance for our guests to show us they have that X Factor and become a Superstar………….Live.

We have a very interesting mix of guests this week including the Sight Impaired group and their dogs, ladies in full Islamic dress and a group of Asian ladies who were sitting on Promenade yesterday wearing surgical face masks. I guess my bottom’s reputation had preceded me. There have also been one or two strange comments as well……….have a read of this one

Guest: Ms _________ Ref: 840006674A
Cabin: ——- Added-Changed: 17/10/10 – 17/10/10

——- – MISSING SUITCASE FROM THE CABIN
Gst reported suitcase from the cabin. Description: soft black case. Ms__stated that her state room steward had stolen it and that she wanted him removed from work and that Carnival owed her $100 for the case and $500 for the missing items inside. Guest said that it had been on the bed when she left for breakfast but not there when she came back. Ms——- was very loud and shouting at GSA. GSA notified Security department,

[7:57 PM IRAK] 2ND ISSUE – FOUND CLOTHES IN THE CABIN

Security reports missing case is under the bed. GSS called Ms____ and advised that the suitcase had been moved under the bed to give more room. Guest hung up the phone.

So let’s talk magic…………your Carnival Magic and here with details on a brand new contest and a video to show you is one of the 344 Stephanies.

Carnival Magic’s ‘Name the Bucket’ Contest Starts Today!

What a great way to have your name forever associated with your Carnival Magic. I still don’t understand why the beards wouldn’t let me go with the Magic Dump Bucket.

Recently Princess Cruise Lines launched their blog which as you may know is wonderfully entitled www.50EssentialExperiences.com

Their new blog has just been posted and it is a must read. Why? Well because it is written by a chap who takes a cruise to Vietnam, his first return to the country since he served there in the United States Army four decades ago. What makes this unmissable is the fact the author went on to work for Princess Cruises, in fact he went on to be their current President and CEO Mr. Alan Buckelew. Please don’t miss this poignant blog written it is obvious…….straight from the heart.

Here’s that link again:

www.50EssentialExperiences.com

As you know we have the most wonderful group of sight impaired guests onboard. Actually they are not sight impaired, they are blind. I say this because I was speaking to one of them and she told me that the term “sight impaired” was invented by the politically correct crowd and that she is blind…..and that’s what we should say when referring to her disability……..I love this lady. Her name is Doris and she has been blind since the age of 26. I knew that she was blessed with a wonderful sense of humour though when during the Captain’s Celebration she asked the Master of the Vessel Captain Cupisiti………if she could drive the ship.

So, I asked her if I could spend a few minutes with her and chat about how we as a cruise company can help her and her faithful Seeing Eye Dog companion (named Hamlin) enjoy their cruise more and what it’s like to travel as a blind person and this morning we met at the coffee shop for an early morning chat. Here’s how it went…….oh and thanks to the Hotel Director Duncan for lending me his dictating machine so I could record and slowly…….very slowly type out the interview.

John – Has being blind ever stopped you from traveling where you want to go?

Doris – No, being blind has never stopped me travelling. I even made my way by here to the ship by taxi to the train station and then a 2 hour train ride and then a taxi to the ship.

John – What problems have you encountered when traveling?

Doris – I was standing at the departure gate at atlanta Airport last year waiting to fly to Orlando to attend an international conference for 600 blind people, when a message reached me. I couldn’t board the flight, I was told, because I hadn’t given the necessary week’s notice to board my dog. I smiled and glanced down to where my dog was and said “OK, I will just leave her here then” and handed the leash to the check in person and started to fumble my way forward. Twenty minutes later, Hamlin and I were on the plane.

John – Do you find that people on the ship, both guests and crew have been helpful and respectful to your needs?

Doris – Yes absolutely. We love Carnival, this is my 12th cruise and Hamlin has done 10 and has a Platinum card. I have cruised so much and receive so much help from family and friends, that your ships have become second nature to me. But I do understand the anxiety and tension disabled people feel when traveling.  Recently a friend of mine who has multiple sclerosis who had traveled to see me in California told me what a nightmare it was and that people’s helpfulness toward the disabled was never a given especially when they are in a hurry at airports etc. Being blind means people are aware of your problem but being in a wheelchair means nothing and people will still push past. The crew are lovely and so nice and the only problems I have are with Hamlin as passengers ignore the sign he has around his neck asking not to pet and stroke him. People ignore this because they think I won’t know if they do (she laughs out loud here at her own joke.)

John – So Hamlin must be a wonderful friend and a great asset when you travel

Doris – Yes he is a great help when traveling because people are always keen to assist the dog, if nothing else, but I should make it clear that they cannot read departure screens at airports. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked whether my dog could identify the boarding gate or which muster station I have to go to ………….(she laughs out loud again and so do I).

John – What problems have you found on the ship? How can we do better?

Doris – Well so far the only problem I have had is on the first day I got locked in the toilet because I couldn’t figure out how to open the latch on the inside of cubicle door. It took me 10 minutes to get out. No, everything is good and the cabins are very easy to navigate around. The cabin stewards are so nice and want to help but I always ask them not to move anything because my clothes and my other things need to be put into place, kept there and then I must memorize where I put them. On a cruise on the Paradise I once went to dinner wearing odd shoes because the cabin steward had been tidying up after me.

John – May I ask how being blind has affected your life?

Doris – It was a shock. There was no blindness in my family and, although I had diabetes, I’d had no problems with my sight. When I went to bed, it was normal and when I woke up, it was like being in a cloudy fish tank. I now have no useful sight. I have accepted being blind and get on with my life.

John – What do you love most about cruising?

Doris – The piano bar. I am in there when it opens and I am in there still when it closes. I love to sing a long and enjoy meeting new people. Hamlin likes it because I am in one place for a few hours so he goes straight to sleep.

Well, there you go. I have met many people during my time as CD and Doris is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met and her positive outlook on life is truly extraordinary. I am recording audio files for them every day with the rundown of the events shows and dining times and they are going to come backstage because they would like to “feel” the costumes the dancers are wearing in the shows. Doris is extraordinary…..I will never forget her or Hamlin……..oh and yes….one more thing…..I told Doris that being blind had one advantage today…….she didn’t have to see this.

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.