A Spectacular Fight

October 22, 2010 -

John Heald

Later this morning I have a meeting with the staff and the youth staff about Halloween. As you know, Carnival puts a lot of effort into this with each ship celebrating (if that’s the right word) Halloween two or three times. Here on the Carnival Splendor we will be doing so next week on Friday 29th and again of course on the 31st. We have decorations and scary spiders and enough candy to ensure every kid who sails will have a chance to spray vomit across the Promenade Deck.

To be honest I don’t understand Halloween because when I was growing up it never existed. In the UK we have something called Bonfire Night where we celebrate a chap who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament…….sort of a 17th century terrorist. Now though as we have done with skate boarding, nipple piercing and wearing trousers that show off peoples arse cracks we’ve followed the USA into making Halloween another consumerist load of bollocks that puts fake severed heads on sale in August and our local shops dedicating whole aisles to selling children plastic crap celebrating death and mutilation.

“What are you doing for Halloween?” is something nobody said when I was a lad. Not these days. Even Heidi and her “we all had babies at the same time” friends giggle over what they are going to wear and what they’re children are going to wear.

As I’ve said before……I just don’t get it. We give burglars and perverts license to loiter outside people’s houses and ram candy down the necks of kids and waste millions of perfectly good root vegetables for one piss poor night that doesn’t even give you a day off work. You see, while we protect our kids from all the scary things in the world 364 days a year, on the 365th day we allow them to celebrate murder and mayhem. The last time I was on a ship at Halloween I remember a kid, no older than 12 dressed as the chap in the Hockey Mask from Nightmare on Jason Street or whatever the heck it was called…….. How can any parent be comfortable with boys dressing up as a serial killer who sliced up people and then fashioned a necklace from their intestines?

The other thing I don’t understand is this trick or treat thing because today’s trick or treaters leave a lot to be desired when it comes to the childish tricks and pranks

Trick or treat? No point asking the question these days because everyone gives out tons of candy or……..if your lucky I hear some houses in the States hand out cash……..although I am sure some householders pretend not to be in and spend the night hiding under the bed…But tricks….. Pretty much the worst that can happen is someone with a beard will answer the door and say “Oh no, we don’t approve of candy here, would you like some tofu?” “Er, no thank you,” say the kids and they bugger off next door

As for the trick option, that just doesn’t happen anymore. Whatever happened to the grumpy old sod grunting “Bloody kids, I’m giving you bugger all, now f**k off ”? At least that would have the Buzzlightyears and Harry Potters to jump up and down all over his flowerbeds? At least that would burn off some of the sugar

Maybe it’s the other way round. Maybe people are frightened today that if they shut the door in the trick or treaters face they will get a brick through their window or wake up to find a puddle of piss on their doorstep.

When I was kid we didn’t need Halloween to play tricks. We would throw water bombs off bridges and send taxis to our teacher Mrs. Prouse’s house? Oh and she got pizza every Friday and of course there was the ancient art of knocking on someone’s door and running away as quickly as possible. It’s a lost skill, I fear, the childish prank.

The kids onboard will be doing trick or treating but its organized and structured. No knocking on cabin doors and no tricking allowed. How boring is that. And I have to help apparently because in one of the lounges I am supposed to give out candy and read the kids a scary ghost story. The nice kids will get Snickers bars and M & M’s. Just in case there are some brats in the pack ……. and there will be…….I will be armed with chocolate for them……….laxative chocolate. Better not tell them ghost stories after they have eaten that.

Let’s crack on with some Q and A

Joanne Asked:
John Please Respond:

Hello John, I am booked on the Blogger’s Cruise and can’t wait to sail with you again. Last time was on the Triumph back in 2004. So, it’s been a while.

Having done 13 cruises, I now cruise for the cruising experience rather than the ports. My favorite place on the ship is in the Piano Bar. Now to my request (I’m sure you knew that it was coming LOL). I’m hoping that you could pull a few strings and try to get Ron Pass on board for the Blogger’s Cruise. He is by far Carnival’s best, and it would greatly improve the BC4. Last year, I booked the Dream sailing, and we did manage to snag Ron for a 1 week gig. Hopefully, you will be able to convince them to bring Ron on-board for this week. Thanks so much!!! Joanne

John Says:
Hello Joanne

If I had a dollar for everyone who has asked me to have Ron Pass on Bloggers Cruise 4 I would have at least $7 in my pocket. No…..seriously, many have asked and I can tell you that we have asked both Ron and his boss in the Miami office. So far it looks very, very good that he will be joining us. I am looking forward to seeing you there and thanks for your loyalty.

Best wishes
John

Hildegard Sloan Asked:
PLEASE REPLY

Johnny, I haven’t heard you talk about why Todd was taken off the Dream and Butch put on.

John Says:
Hello Hildegard Sloan

Yes, you are correct. Todd is now on a well deserved vacation. Having taken out 11 new ships for Carnival that it is a quite exhausting process and I hope that at age 45 I will be able to successfully deliver your Carnival Magic. Anyway, Todd worked so hard and gave his heart to the ship and nobody deserves a vacation more. He will be rejoining the fleet as cruise director of the Carnival Liberty tomorrow and takes over the following week. Meanwhile over on your Carnival Dream Butch is also now on vacation and Big Sexy Josh is there and doing a fine job as always. Although we have yet to complete the 2011 CD schedule I can tell you that Butch will be the permanent CD of your Carnival Dream next year. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Best wishes
John

Margaret Martin Asked:

Am sure your eyes are bothering you from “computer-itis” but when you have a minute if you could respond. We are sailing on the Legend Jan. 16, 2011 and have already begun to make fast friends on Cruise Critic Board. But most of us are newcomers to cruising. Everyone is voicing an interest in a Meet & Greet, but no one is sure how to arrange it. I’ve read about paid gatherings, free gatherings, a grab bag of items from your hometown, etc. But they also mention ships officers sometimes being present (especially at the paid reception).

Can you jump start this old body for me….who can I call?

Would it be presumptuous of me to invite the ships officers? Which ones?

Do you have a suggestion for a meeting room on the Legend?

Thanks so much for your help. It’s always such a boost at work when I read your blog (shows you how boring my job is!).

John Says:
Hello Margaret Martin

First thing I have to do when I get home is have my eyes tested as I am sure it’s time for glasses. My headaches were also from this sodding sinus thing that just won’t bugger off. Anyway, enough of my problems. I am always happy to see that the good people from Cruise Critic want to meet up onboard and I am always glad to make that happen. Please can you post again on or around the start of December and I will make sure I arrange a room and ask the CD to place an ad in the Capers of……..bugger……….place an ad in the Fun Times for you.

The ship’s officers are normally very busy on a sea day but please do invite the CD and the hotel director. Just leave a note at the guest services desk for them and I know they will do their best to attend. As for a room, well it depends on how many you are expecting but I would suggest the piano bar would be nice for you all. Anyway, keep in touch and please let me know around December time how many you have.

Best wishes to all
John

Tanya Brooks Asked:
John,

I love reading your blog, and even though we are going on the Dream on October 30, my husband and I have already booked the Destiny for next year. This cruise will be special as it may be our last together. My husband was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer, so we booked Destiny for our anniversary. We will be on the January 29, 2011 sailing in room 7155 I am asking if there is any way possible for you to arrange for us to have a table for 2? I am just really looking forward to some much needed alone time. I guess since I am leaving the 8 year old carnival fanatic at home I shall have to acquire a ship on a stick for him. Truly thank you for any help you can give me.

John Says:
Hello Tanya Brooks

Oh my goodness, I am so very sorry to hear about your husband and I can only hope and pray that he is allowed many more years with you. I have sent a note to my Maitre D friends on the Carnival Destiny already but can I ask that you also send me a reminder in early December please. Thanks so much and we are all thinking about you.

Best wishes to you both.
John

Xanaducruiser Asked:
John (Please reply)

Please can you tell me how on the formal night of my Miracle cruise a man was allowed to be in the dining room in sweats and a T Shirt? He sat directly opposite me and I could not believe my eyes. I thought Carnival had a strict policy on this. Obviously not!

John Says:
Hello Xanaducruiser

We do indeed have a strict policy on elegant night and that’s why I was surprised to read your report. Obviously there is one thing to bear in mind though and that is each week on every ship we have guests who have lost luggage and in these cases we make an exception to the rule. Anyway, thanks for letting me know and I will send this to the maitre d on the Carnival Miracle.

I hope you had a fun cruise.

Best wishes
John

Paula Lockheart Asked:
John, (Please reply)

Love your blog and you are my first read of the each morning. I have a quick question about the Behind the Fun tour. Does it go to the engine room proper or just the place where the engineers have their offices? We are hoping to take this when we next cruise as my husband is an engineer at a power plant. Thanks so much

Paula

John Says:
Hello Paula

Thanks for the kind words about the blog thingy and I am glad you enjoy it so much. The Behind the Fun tour does indeed go to the engine control room which would look at home aboard the Starship Enterprise. This is where the chief engineer will meet you and take you through all the processes of the ship’s population and power distribution. Unfortunately access to the engine room is extremely difficult and there are certain liabilities that do not allow us to take anyone there. However, I am sure your husband will find this tour absolutely brilliant so book it as soon as you get onboard to avoid missing out.

Best wishes to you both.
John

Katrina Hawley Asked:
Hello John, (Please Reply)

My husband and I are going to be sailing November 28th on the Freedom, cabin # 6269. This is our first time sailing with Carnival and also our first time sailing without children! Since I have never had the pleasure of cruising on the Freedom, I was hoping you could use your magic powers and arrange a nice table for us in the dining room.

I also want to tell you that your blog thingy is wonderful! And I just love your sense of humour (spelled the right way) and I often read your blog thingy to my husband. He said we would try to keep the noise of our rumpy pumpy…did I say that correctly?? Down to a dull roar….but no promises! After all…. we will be all alone without children…hehehehe.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please know that some of us really do appreciate what you do.

Thank you,
Katrina Hawley

John Says:
Hi Katrina:

Yes, please keep the noise down will you? Thanks so much for the kind words and I hope you have a great cruise on the Carnival Freedom. I have asked the Maitre D to do his best to provide you with a table for 2. I wish you both a wonderful and sometimes non horizontal cruise.

Best wishes.
John

Ben2000 Asked:
Reply from John please

Here is my review of the Conquest. The lines were terrible. The four lines were long in the topside self service Cezanne restaurant. Sometimes that was our choice for breakfast, but we went to the dining room even though they could not come to you immediately there either. The overall service was faster. They have four specialty food service areas that we used: pizza, deli sandwich, hamburger and Mongolian noodles. The last of these was new to me on a ship and was popular. I waited more than 40 minutes in line and Royal’s lines on Independence moved so much quicker… The lines at the pizza, deli and hamburger places were not significant when we were there. There were long lines to get back on the ship from our ports. I heard the rain drenched the lines getting back on in Freeport. We came back early that day. Have I been in lines on other ships? I think so, but can’t remember. It’s easy to remember the lines on this ship. The word “luxury” is often used cruising. Here I felt “efficiency” more appropriate. Some of our best cruise entertainment has been talking with our waiters. We still remember the legendary Erik from the nineties on Royal Caribbean. I don’t remember another one’s name from a different Royal Caribbean cruise, but he was from Portugal and far more entertaining than any of the performers in the ship’s theater, although they also were fine. On the Conquest the waiters were too busy. It was clear they were trying to please us the best they could. They just had too many tables to handle. We did get adequately served, with no time for chit chat. Dining room food was warm, but not hot. We were told there were 1100 crew with just under 3000 passengers. Is this ratio too low? In this case I think so. In the last few years they have been automatically deducting the tip for the waiters, room stewards, etc. from your “cruise account”. Probably for the best. Our waiters worked as hard as they could, and deserved a tip as much as anyone. I just prefer giving a tip for outstanding service to me rather than upholding the efficiency of the cruise line’s service and on this cruise it was not the standards I am used to on Royal. We got the table for four we asked you for so thanks for that. The final fact I want to mention is that the people who cruise out of Galveston are certainly of a lower standard to what I was used to and that was one of the deciding factors as to why we will not cruise from there again.

Ben

John Says:
Hello Ben

What a truly disappointing review and a surprising one as well. I know that there is often a long wait for the Mongolian as each item has to be chosen by the guest and then cooked fresh by the two very hard working Chefs. I had no idea RCI had a Mongolian Wok, as well. Anyway, I want to thank you for taking the time to write to me and I will pass your comments to the ship and to the people concerned at Miami HQ.

However, it would be remiss of me not to respectfully and totally disagree with your statement on the people who cruise out of Galveston. I spent a very happy two months there and I have to say that the guests were some of the most fun and most enthusiastic cruisers I have ever met. It is because of their loyalty that they are getting our new ship Carnival Magic.

I hope you do decide to cruise with us again.

Best wishes
John

Uncle Doug Asked:
John, please reply

Did you ever answer the question about the Bloggers cruise that when using the booking code PBL costing $100 per person more than the current early saver rate? I know there are extra’s treats provided to the blogger cruisers. You were going to check on this.

Thanks
Uncle Doug

John Says:
Hello Uncle Doug

Yes indeed. I did post that there was not a $100 surcharge at all but the fare code did not take into account the past guest discounts and other early saver programs. We will be doing a full roll call next month. Please let me know if you have a follow up to this.

Best wishes and see you soon
John

That’s all for today and I will return on Monday. Thanks again for a great week of comments.

As you may know my current assistant is shockingly called Stephanie but before her there was Ugly Craig. Well the ugly one has his first chance to be CD next week when he takes over the Carnival Fantasy for Risa who is taking a break. Here is Craig decorating the ship for Halloween.

We wish him good luck. I am sure he is going to be a great CD but as a pirate……well he’s about as scary as a newborn lamb.

Before ugly Craig there was Stephanie Meads who is very close to becoming a fully promoted CD and before her there was Jaime. Remember her? Probably not because she has been a lazy sod and hasn’t sent a Dear John letter since 1953…………until now. Here she is.

October 21, 2010

Dear John,

It has now been three weeks of me procrastinating writing you a letter, and today after the 9th day of clouds in a row – today is finally the day! I am reporting from a big comfy couch in San Diego and this vacation has truly allowed me to appreciate the finer things in life – like cooking for myself, sleeping until the afternoon and the wonders of Charmin toilet paper! After working for six months straight on board, being off the ship needs to be all about relaxing, catching up with friends and family, and of course mastering the art of accomplishing absolutely nothing. I have been doing a fantastic job of that! It is actually something that is a quite a challenge for me. Kirk has been of great assistance helping me achieve the epitome of relaxation; in fact right now he is next me on the couch making some loud, vibrating noise… I think that is snoring?

In two weeks I am already heading back to work on the Carnival Pride. I will be the cruise director over there for one week before the ship heads into dry dock in Freeport. Highlights of my past four weeks on vacation would have to include, but are not limited to: Seeing grandma in Brooklyn, she tells the same story about 734 times, but you have got to love her – she truly is a joy to be around and a bundle of dynamite, maybe it runs in the family? Seeing Wicked on Broadway! This show is truly nothing short of amazing. I highly recommend it. It is almost like seeing Vrooom! But just a little different… because there is no motorcycle in the opening number. I have been able to see my parents here in California, and friends from Michigan! Of course, I can’t forget to mention that the Michigan State Football team is 7-0!! Go Green.

I love having a place to unpack and it is a huge bonus that it is a beautiful condo right on Mission Bay. It is truly amazing living on the water and seeing the sunset every night. We live just a bike ride away from the ocean. You are probably thinking – you’re on vacation, why would you still want to look at the water all the time? The answer is simple, here there are very few activities, there are people running by on the path below, however there are no crazy cruise directors making announcements every 34 seconds. The only noises are the fireworks in the distance, the water swaying back and forth and the guy with a really loud drill putting on a new roof next door. Priceless. And I can not forget one of the biggest highlights of this vacation was driving to Long Beach to see John, Heidi and Kye.

John was John. You’ll be happy to know he has most definitely lost weight since I last saw him in November at the New York Carnival Dream event. The weight loss may have just been because Heidi was visiting but regardless keep up the good work! During our visit I was elated that John had a moment of weakness and he actually let me give him a hug! I think he burned his clothes later that day, not on the ship though because the most dangerous event on board is fire.

Besides pictures, I have not had the pleasure of seeing Heidi since we were on the Carnival Splendor together in November of 2008. If you have never met her, she lights of the room with her spirit and charisma. She is as beautiful as ever, and always holds herself with grace and honor. It was so wonderful to see her again, catch up and fill her in about the past two years!

This was also my first time meeting Kye. All I can say is that she is the most energetic, exciting baby I have ever seen. She was smiling the entire time, we played peek – a – boo, the chase the ball game and we had a nice lunch on Lido. She is such a good baby she eats everything you feed her. She is just like a puppy! Only she looks like Heidi.

I am planning on making the most of my last two weeks of vacation. I am spending one more week in California, and then heading to Michigan to see my friends before heading back to the ship. Kirk’s birthday is coming up soon! He will be 41! For his birthday I got him a Nintendo Wii and no matter what he says it’s a present for him – not both of us. Although I do have a tendency to get him presents that both of us will enjoy,.. In the past I got him tickets to my favorite show, I got him some Geritol. I even was nice enough to pick out a dress for him that I knew he would enjoy.

I am eagerly anticipating looking forward to my return to Pride on October 31st. One more contract over there, and then who knows? Now that I have had the pleasure of visiting almost every Caribbean port that Carnival travels to, I am hoping to have a new challenge. Not to say that the winter season out of Baltimore is not a challenge – we are all hoping and praying that the weather is milder than last year. It is quite unique to travel from twenty-degree weather, covered in snow in Baltimore then down to the warm Bahamas all in the same week. I am grateful to acknowledge that the six months that I had assumed I would stay with the company has now turned into almost three and a half years. Looking forward to sailing with you soon!

All the best,
Your Friend
Jaime =)
From Vacation!

Normally at this point I say thanks to Jaime and then say something sarcastic but not today. That’s because she said so many nice things about my daughter and that I had lost weight. So Jaime, today, all I am going to say is thank you and I hope you and Kirk are having lots of fun on vacation and that you are feeling happy!

Along with Mr. Ken Byrne, my great friend Miguel Rodrigues is surely one of the company’s most popular Maitre D’s. He lives on the beautiful island of Madeira which is off the main land of Portugal. It was from there that he sent these brilliant photos of the new Queen Elizabeth on her maiden voyage.

Thanks Miguel for sending those. We miss you here a lot and will see you soon.

Back here on the Carnival Splendor we are in Cabo San Lucas. It is another beautiful day and once again the guests have been blessed with gorgeous weather. We were all concerned when we heard about the earthquake in the region but luckily there was no structural damage or injuries so it’s business as usual. Peter the Hair is leaving today but Jay and Everett are staying and will be filming more clips for carnival.com and the blog thingy. It’s been a great cruise I think despite me not feeling 100%. I still have a thick head and stuffed nose but each day I think there seems to be some improvement. If not then I will get some antibiotic thingies but that’s a last resort as they will probably knock me out which means I can’t work or write.

Next week is going to be interesting as we have some people from the office sailing for three days. They go from ship to ship and are called the “QAT” which stands for Quality Assurance Team. This is made up of SVP’s and VP’s and they come on and listen to the captain and senior officers about the product and what they can do to make it better. They also listen to any questions or concerns the crew might have as well. So we will have meetings with them. Oh joy, I love meetings. Anyway, it will be interesting to see what they have to say and of course I will make sure you get to know here on the blog and on Facebook update thingies.

So in PV we had a party for the crew. It was supposed to be the week before but of course the night before was when we lost one of our family to the sea. Obviously doing a big party the next night was not appropriate and so we postponed it. I normally avoid crew parties like I avoid Paris. This is because the crew seems to enjoy trying to get me to dance and because I am sure my department doesn’t let their hair down if I am there.

But this time I felt it appropriate for me to go. The crew were really in good spirits and it was great to see them having fun. I must have had my photo taken a dozen times or more with various crewmembers and that was a real honour. But the highlight of the evening was Mr. Ding, a good friend of the crew member who passed away. I stood and talked to him for some time and he became very emotional as he spoke of his friend’s final few minutes on earth.  I can only imagine the emotions that Mr. Ding is feeling.

I know I have never told you the crew members name and for obvious reasons I couldn’t. This was because we had to contact his family which was difficult. You see the crew member was from Myanmar or Burma as it was formerly known. This country as you may know is closed off to the world pretty much and communicating with people there is not easy at all. Anyway, I did my best to comfort Mr. Ding who I know will carry the memories of his friend around with him for the rest of his life.

Normally the highlight of Thursday nights is the talent show and the bedtime story. Last night both of these went well but for many the highlight happened ten minutes before showtime.

From: SPLENDOR GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2010 10:58 PM
To: SPLENDOR CRUISE DIRECTOR

Good Evening
John, here as a follow up from earlier

Unhappy with Guests saving the seats

Mr. ____ came to the desk to share his comments regarding a guest who was saving six seats in the lounge for the show. Mr. _____ wanted to be noted that he almost got into the fight with the other guests who where keeping the seats. The other guests said that they were allowed to do what they wanted and used bad language to them. The cruise director had come out from behind the curtain and tried to calm the situation down but the guests were abusive to him as well. Eventually cruise director asked the other guests to leave the theatre which they did still swearing. Purser apologized for experience and will ask cruise director to follow up with guest.

Many thanks,

Yep, there was nearly a bloodbath in the Spectacular Lounge ……well … hardly a bloodbath … more like two men hitting each other with their wives’ purses. I was backstage waiting to for the show to start when the sound tech Scotty who can see everything that is happening from his perch thingy called me to say that two guests were screaming at each other. Hearing this I sprinted ……OK…..I walked quickly to see what was happening. As I came through the curtain I saw and heard the commotion coming from the third row of the theatre and there were two male guests, nose to nose, chins to chins but the amazing thing was that both were in their 70′s.

Walking over I stood between them and asked what the problem was. Of course, they both started screaming at the same time so I had to ask them to step away and we all three walked to the back of the theatre as not to be in the gaze of the other 1,000 people who were waiting for the show to start …………..although for many, it already had.

The first guest (who looked a little like Tony Bennett) told me that he and his wife had walked to the third row and as they tried to take their seat “this jerk” (pointing his finger at the other chap) had told them that this row was reserved. Mr. Bennett then said that this was not allowed and as he tried to sit down he was shoved and the argument began.

After listening to both for a moment and with the show now 5 minutes late, I asked Mr. Bennett and his wife to go and sit down and enjoy the show in the third row as saving seats were not allowed. Well, that went made the other chap very angry indeed and I became the object of his anger. He was raising his voice and cursing, his voice level rising all the time and eventually I had no choice but to ask him to leave the theatre otherwise I would have no option but to call security.

He stormed over to the seats where the rest of his party had arrived (two more couples), grabbed his wife by the arm and left the lounge….as they did……..many of the guests who had seen the commotion applauded and cheered….something that I wish they hadn’t done but I understand why they did so.

Having sorted this out I sprinted…….OK walked fast..….backstage and the show started nearly 10 minutes late. Normally, I start the show with a drum role and then I introduce the orchestra ……. unfortunately the devil inside got the better of me and this time as the spotlight hit me and the drum roll sounded I found myself using my best announcing voice and declaring “Welcome to the Spectacular Lounge…….let’s get ready to rumble.” By the way, I checked the manifest. Mr. Bennett is 68 and the chap that did the pushing, swearing and shouting……is 74 years old.

Well, that’s it for today. Thanks for your company this week and I will be back with another blog thingy on Monday and regular Facebook thingies over the weekend.

Oh yes……….nearly forgot………one more thing. I received a comment from Anchorman which I won’t post. It was full of hate for me and for you and most of all discontent about me talking about my family. So Anchorman………..no apologies this time………..just this photo.

Goodnight
Your friend
John

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

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