Something Special

November 3, 2010 -

John Heald

Someone once said that all men are created equal. I am not sure who it was but he probably had a beard, wore sandals and listened to folk music…………..unfortunately he was talking bollocks.

You could give me the same ingredients that Gordon Ramsay uses and put me in the same kitchen with the same equipment, and even though we have exactly the same number of hands, fingers and the ability to swear every over word…. I can absolutely guarantee that I’d end up with a plate full of mucus that even a rat would turn his nose up at. Cooking is like painting ….. I know this because I used to try at school.

I have a brush and some eyes but everything I tried to transpose onto paper ended up looking like a dog that had mutated with Judge Judy. Even at 18 months,  Kye can paint better than I can and, as Heidi will tell you it’s the same story with DIY. My Dad can create an Edwardian cabinet out of two bits of wood and a rusty nail while anytime I have attempted to build anything it ends up broken and on the floor……….all men are not created equal.

Ambition is no substitute for talent. A point I have been proving all day as I have been trying to print the photos that I took of Heidi and Kye when they were here threes week ago and like an opening a Bath and Body Works in Paris………it doesn’t work.

I know this because I have been trying to print the same photo for the last three hours and if I had the strength and a window that would open, I would chuck it out and let it rot at the bottom of the Sea Of Cortez. Selected a picture on the computer, hit print and it came out sideways on an upright piece of paper. So I turned the paper round and tried again. And then again. And then again. This was annoying since a piece of top quality A4 premium glossy photo paper costs more than diamonds.

Eventually, though, out came a lovely picture of Kye, Heidi and I with that striking Land’s End rock formation in Cabo San Lucas in the background. Except though while it looks it looks good on the camera and it looks good on my computer screen when it’s printed it looks like it’s we are all auditioning for The Exorcist, our red eyes matched only by our red faces. We look like we have just been marinated in a barrel of boiling oil. Now I know you can adjust this red eye sort of thing using your mouse and a bit of software they have slapped onto the computer called Corel Paint Shop Pro X Version 3000 Deluxe Excel Soft something or other but that doesn’t work either.

All attempts to correct the redness of our faces resulted in more and more red blotches appearing and much more swearing from me until eventually I called the I/S manager who is about 12 years old and from the Philippines. It turns out the procedure is simple. You tell the printer what sort of paper you’re using and how big it is. Then you give the information to the computer. Then you say whether you want “landscape” or “portrait,” then you choose the quality level you’re after, then you fix the red eyes, remove the blemishes, have a look at the preview and then, after just 55 minutes or so, out pops the finished product. Which is still crap. Really and truly, I’m not a bad photographer. Some of the pictures I’ve got back from my local Quick Snap shop over the years have not been bad at all. But the stuff that’s poured from my printer looks like it was taken by Stevie Wonder.

And there you have it. I have the tools. I have the basic ability. But I lack that certain something, which means I cannot produce the sort of quality digital pictures that you get from a professional ………….all men are not created equal….and if you want further proof have LeBron James and I get naked and stand next to each other …………………equal my arse.

Time for today’s Q and A……let’s get on with it.

SoCalDonna Asked:
John (please reply)

Thank you so much for your time and caring for everyone involved in Carnival.

Just returned from sailing on the Legend, (sail date 9/19/10) our 5th cruise, 1st time for the Caribbean. All others have been from So Cal, last year we were on the Splendor.

As always everything was perfect. We were offered an upgrade to a suite, which we took as my Mother always sails with us, and it was great. I don’t think we can ever go back to just a balcony room again.

Just want to make sure that a few of the crew the members that made our trip get the recognition that they deserve. First our room steward Frernades (cabin #6185) was wonderful. When we had leak on the floor, he had a plumber in to fix it in no time. Fernando and Armando in the dining room (late dining), were delightful. Fernando told us that he was leaving to bring out the Magic. I hope that Armando gets a promotion; however that works in your world. (LoL). Also Singing Ken was the best, coming by and making sure that all was well, and if there was anything more that could be done for us.

I booked pedicures for my husband and myself in the Spa (his 1st one ever). It was the best pedi I’ve ever had. Rondha (assist spa Manger) said she was moving to LA in a couple of weeks, and hoping for a promotion, she deserves this if you have any input.

Next and probably the most important to my Husband was Utamea (? the spelling), on the Lido deck. He was always there remembering his bucket of beer, and smiling.

I hope that this gets to the right people and again thank you and everyone from Carnival, for making sure that our vacation was perfect.

We are already booked for next year on the Liberty out of Miami, Sept., 2011. (Nothing like planning ahead, and wishing your life away, until your next cruise).

Don’t change a thing about your blog or your love of life and people. Even if we are from So Cal. (LoL)

Thank you for your time,
Bobby & Donna Clelland

John Says:
Hello Bobby & Donna Clelland

And that’s the perfect way to start today’s Q and A with this wonderful review of the ship and her crew. I appreciate you taking the time to write this glowing report and of course I will make sure that everyone you mentioned gets to see your words of praise. I never have any problems with repeating over and over again that it is the crew that can make a great cruise into the best vacation in the world and that is something you have highlighted in your review. Thanks again and please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Best wishes to you both

Aundrea Asked:
John, Please Reply

Hello there from Oklahoma! If Oklahoma had a cruise port you could guarantee that we would be just as loyal as all of the other port states, but alas no such luck there.

I am hoping and praying for the best for the crew member that was air lifted off the ship.

I thoroughly enjoy your blog despite the trolls. 🙂

We had hoped that you would be joining us from Key West for the “Crazies Cruise” last September, my husband was really looking forward to meeting and cruising you as was I.

The reason I am writing to you today is that even though my husband and I have taken 3 cruises, I am still at a loss as to what to do for him to make this trip extra special. I was hoping you could help me with that.

We have sailed 3 times out of Galveston on the Carnival Conquest (2 times on the Western Itinerary and once on the Eastern).

On our second cruise we were canceled due to Ike making landfall on sailing day… 🙁 But we were able to reschedule and even though it wasn’t on my birthday as originally planned we had a fabulous time as always!

This time we are sailing out of Port Canaveral, FL. We have never flown together in our 7.5 years of marriage so we are extra excited, not to mention we will set sail on the Carnival Dream on November 6th, 2010! We are in cabin # 7289.

Please let me know of any special places that should not be missed on this cruise.



John Says:
Hello Aundrea,

Thanks for the kind words and since you posted this comment we have of course had a second crew member who was airlifted as well. The first one is still very poorly although he has left the ICU and is waiting to be well enough to fly home to Grenada. The good news is that the crew member we flew off the ship on Sunday is doing much better and we are all very thrilled to hear this. Thanks you for your loyalty and I was also sorry that I couldn’t be with you and the Crazies although I heard you all had a fabulous time and were such a help to the crew during a difficult week. I will ask my friends on your Carnival Dream to send something to your husband and I hope you both have a brilliant cruise. Do not miss the Dancin in the Street show, the steakhouse, the laser shows and one night, sit out on The Lanai and listen to the sound of the sea. I look forward to hearing all about your cruise when you get home.

Best wishes to you both

Tasmin Asked:
John – reply

This is going to sound like a false comment but it’s not and I am very angry. I just got off the Fascination and had a good time and thank you for the champagne. But what really made me mad was that they took my handcuffs away and said they were not allowed onboard. I was humiliated by the staff when I had to go and have them search my suitcase. What I do in the cabin that I have paid for with my partner is my business and I do not understand why they were taken away. Please explain because I am soooooo upset.

John Says:
Hello Tasmin

I am sorry that you are so upset and I can understand why. However, the crew was just doing their job because handcuffs are part of the prohibited items that guests are not allowed to bring onboard. I hope you had fun though and I am glad you received the champagne.

Best wishes

Steve Ferdinand Asked:
John, please reply

Can you tell me who the Cruise Director will be on the Triumph in May 2011.

Thanks so much and your blog is the best thing on the WWW

John Says:
Hello Steve,

Thanks so much for those kind words that is huge praise indeed. We are currently finalizing the cruise director schedule for 2011 and I hope to be able to share it with you all very soon.

Best wishes

Musingsofjustjon Asked:

Given that we were, as you know, on the TA of the Carnival Freedom, I feel qualified to discuss the issue of activities on the Transatlantic.

For the record, our crossing was a seven day crossing from Funchal, the Madeira Islands to Miami. This passage was, IMO, too long.

It would be my recommendation that Carnival consider locating an intermediate stop during the actual TA passage. As I recall, the passage of the Carnival Dream included a five sea day passage, followed by a stop in the South Caribbean before a final two day passage to Miami. I would much have preferred this itinerary over the Funchal to Miami passage.

As for activities, I feel strongly that there were plenty of choices during our cruise. We had ballroom dancing classes available (we took advantage, of course) as, if I recall correctly, lectures and other activities. I must commend Todd Wittmer and Noordje for their excellent jobs as CD and ACD of this cruise. They were extremely visible during the entire cruise. I particularly remember the Carnival Triple Crown horse stakes. Hilarious.

Can you provide more alternatives to the passengers? Absolutely – the Library is a great place to start. All Libraries on Carnival ships seem too small to me. Still, there were a wide assortment of games available for people to fill their time – and I recall a group who were constantly in the Library playing these games.


John Says:

Hello MTSFP – or Missingthesmokefreeparadise to give you your full title. Thanks for that insight. Let’s have a look at your Carnival Magic’s itinerary for the TA cruise.

So we have three Spanish ports and then 6 sea days before Grand Turk. It’s those sea days that are the make or break of the cruise and it will be important that I pack the ship with as many activities as I can. I have said many times here that TA’s are difficult because there has always been a group of people who no matter what you do get bored on those sea days and boredom often leads to grumpiness. It’s always just a small group but they can be very vocal indeed. I will therefore do what I can. The library is what it is and it’s not going to get any bigger, however, I am going to ask for extra books and if possible some of those electronic books for hire as well. I am determined to make this the best TA cruise ever. I wish you were coming with us.

Best wishes to you and Mrs. MTSFP

Tom Asked:

John, we were just wondering if Carnival pays for the crew member’s hospital bill and airfare for his wife to join him. I hope so. He wouldn’t need the pressure of paying the bill on his salary.

John says:
Hello Tom

Carnival gives full medical care for all their crew and he and his family continue to be well looked after. Carnival did indeed pay for his wife’s airfare from Grenada. We are all blessed to work for such a caring company. Thanks so much for asking.

Best wishes

BYW IAN Asked:

Will Carnival ever consider having a cruise ship with NO KIDS!!
I can’t ever consider cruising with Carnival with the decks overrun with rude disrespectful children. We cruise Celebrity because they don’t allow too many children and the kids that do go on are well behaved. Judging by the reviews I have read recently on the Cruise Critic boards that is not the case with Carnival. You have so many ships why not do an adults only one? I am positive it would make your company more profitable

John Says:

The simple answer is no, Ian. Carnival has no intention of making one ship a child free one. We are very proud of being a cruise line that encourages families to sail together. There are times when maybe we do have one or two kids that get a little naughty but for the most part the kids that sail with us are well behaved. Families are our bread and butter and we are proud therefore to be a family cruise line. I hope that you will not read too much into what is written on the cruise sites and try Carnival and see for yourself what a brilliant experience thousands of people have each and every week across the fleet.

Best wishes

Nancy Mullins Asked:

I simply love to read your blog. I, my husband, sister & her husband had the pleasure of being on the Dream with you last December for the nine day cruise. The Dream was just wonderful. We will be going again this year and will leave Port Carnival on December 4. This is our fourth Carnival cruise and have already booked a cruise for next December. Last year you helped us get a wonderful table for four up on the upper floor table #685. We are confirmed for early dinning this time and was wondering if you would be so kind as to see if we could get the same table or one close to it. Our cabin number is Mullins suiteOS7234 and Howington suite OS7230. We would appreciate your help. Thank you for being so kind. We love the Dream. Please let me know if you can help me.

John Says:
Hello Nancy Mullins

I am so glad you are huge fans of your Carnival Dream and I have asked the maitre d to do his best to arrange your table as requested. I hope you all have a wonderful time together.

Best wishes to all

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please Reply,

On the Sept 28th blog you wrote about your back hurting from the way the lady from Jamaica pounced on you. I watched the video of it and I noticed that your back was turned a little bit. You really have to be careful of this, because you can get a herniated disc from someone throwing you the wrong way or even the way this lady bounced on you like she was roping a buck. If you start to feel pain down one of your legs, please get to a Doctor right away.

You also talked about the library on the new Carnival Magic. I do have one question though, how are you going to prevent people from saying that they got stolen or they lost them, when in fact they are in their carry-on luggage going home with them. I was thinking about this, maybe you could get Carnival to do a special promotion like for everyone who brings a book to donate to the library, they would get one free drink or one free photo. Just think of all the books that could be raised if the whole fleet did this for one week.

To the lady who wrote about being upset that the Captain and all the officers did not attend her CC meeting on the Norwegian Dawn. For my very first cruise, I went on the Norwegian Dawn and we had asked the Captain and others to visit us at our CC meeting and they could not be bothered, not even the CD (who sent us a letter of apology stating that he had an emergency come up and could not leave), they politely told us that the Captain and Officers DO NOT ATTEND these kinds of meetings because if they do it for CC, then they would have to do it for all groups. The letter also stated that the only groups that the Captain and the Officers attend are ones that are pre-approved by their head office. I got thinking about this afterwards and it made a lot of sense to me, the Captain and his Officers have so much going on per day that if they did attend every group that asked them, they would not get any of the important work done.

Please give my love to Heidi and Kye.

From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan,

Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

I certainly am getting too old for the Bedtime Story and eventually I will have to retire this skit as it hurts too much. Thanks so much as always for your concern. I assume you are talking about the electronic books and how we stop people from stealing them. We will take a deposit charged to the Sail & Sign card for the full amount of their worth. I am still waiting for permission from the office to do this and I hope it is something we can get done. It is difficult for the captains to attend all the requests they get and even I have problems doing so with all my other commitments but we all do our best. Thanks for your continuing support.

Best wishes

Amy Asked:
Reply please

So I am preparing for my cruise in November (on the Pride out of Baltimore headed to Nassau & Freeport) & have a list that I have checked twice…

Luckily, we are within driving distance, so I am not limited by the weight allowance on some airlines.

As I looked at my list & thought about my ability to take a cruise vacation, etc. I realized that not unlike in Mexico where you went to an Orphanage, in the Bahamas, there may also be children in need.

Can you help me with ideas on what I can bring & to where I can deliver them?

John Says:
Hello Amy

How very kind of you to think of helping children in need. I have sent this to the ship to see if they have any ongoing charity drives and if so I will have someone contact you. Thanks again for caring and I wish you a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes

That’s all for today and thank you all for your comments.

Now, time for some more Halloween photos this time from the Carnival Ecstasy and CD Brad as well as one from the Carnival Liberty and CD Todd and some scary ones from Carnival Destiny and CD Brent.

There is no point trying to be politically correct here so I shall just come out and say that since I have been here on the Carnival Splendor I have met more eccentric people than I have on any other ship. Here are two cases in point from this week.

First, we have the mad professor. I have no idea if he is a professor but I do know that he is quite mad. Yes he’s a guest and yes I have to respect that but since joining the ship on Saturday he has written three letters to me and at the captain’s celebration would not leave my side. Then this morning he stood at the guest services desk at 7 am refusing to leave until I came down to speak to him…….again.

Why…well he wants me to give him a lounge and allow him to talk to the guests about the end of the world which according to this mad professor and a few Mayans is going to happen in 2012. Yep ……that’s something our guests want to hear on a Fun Ship cruise …….in the same way they want to hear that they have syphilis.

I have to this point tried being polite, respectful and patient and in return I have been called “ignorant” and during this morning’s conversation on the phone (I didn’t go down at 7 am because I was wearing only my underpants and the sight of me dressed like that may have meant the end of the world for many of our guests far sooner than two thousand and sodding twelve) he told me I was “doomed.”

It’s one thing that he believes that unless we are all living on top of Mount Everest or at the bottom of a Chilean mine that we are all going to die but it’s a far more ridiculous thing that he wants me to schedule some time for him to talk about it. Can you imagine the Fun Times?

2:00pm: John’s Marriage Show
2:45pm: 10 Games of Bingo
3:30pm: Learn How You And Your Family Are All Going To Die In 2012
4:00pm: Tea Time and Piano Music

Obviously I can’t allow him to talk about this and you would think that he would understand ……. but he doesn’t. He tells me has given this lecture at universities across the United States and seems it unfathomable that I won’t allow him to do this onboard. I know we as employees are supposed to say that the guest is always right and most of the time they are. But in this case and because this is my blog……….I can say that he is totally and absolutely 100% bonkers.

But the professor is not alone.

Guest: Mrs. ———–Ref: 842021890A
Cabin: ———–Added-Changed: 11/02/10 – 11/02/10

Mrs.______ came to the desk and wanted to speak to Cruise Director. Guest said that during the show CD had made a comment about her child and that she was upset. GSA called the Cruise Director who came to speak to Mrs.____

On my way down to the desk I couldn’t think what it was that I had said that would have upset this lady so much. I thought back to the Marriage Show …….nope……..nothing involving children ………and I couldn’t begin to understand what I had said. I hate these situations. The guest refused to tell the GSA anything more and so I was entering the arena having sod all clue what I had done wrong.

The guest was there waiting for me and I took her over to the corner of the lobby and we sat down. I knew this wasn’t going to be a good day out because as soon as she spoke her first words they were accented by that waving, wagging finger which is always a sign that I wasn’t going to be on her Christmas card list this year.

So what was it that I had done? Well, it was from the Morning Show during which I had read her letter that she had written. Here it is……..I have blacked out the names.

I get a lot of letters like this that proclaim thanks and love to other family members who have helped them through difficult times and I always think it’s wonderful that people express their gratitude like this. Anyway, I read the letter and at the end I mentioned that she has a loving husband and a special son. And that’s what got me in the doghouse…….the use of the word “special.” Now reading the letter again I see that it does say that Tyler had “difficulties of his own” but does this mean I cannot use the word “special” anymore? It turns out that her son has what she called “learning challenges” and said that I had upset him and her by the use of the word “special.” I couldn’t sodding believe this…….and yes I was angry. I tried to explain that I had never met her son and that I used the word “special” in the sense of what it means but she would hear none of it.

I went back to watch the show and saw that I simply said that he was a special kid (I repeated this bit twice) for looking after his Mum and that gets me a bollocking?

It is a sad fact that these days the word “special” has taken on a different meaning I guess and I have been slow to realise that. But what about “Special Forces” and “Special K” are those wrong words now? I apologised as that is what the lady wanted but I can honestly say…… wasn’t an apology from the heart because for once……I truly felt I had done nothing wrong and by reading her letter out all I was trying to do was to make her and her family……………feel special.

Well as you know we disembarked a crew member by helicopter on Sunday night. I had just been on stage for 10 minutes when one of the staff brought the note out. Here are the final moments of the Welcome Aboard show and how I told the audience what was happening.

So I had some Yabba Daba Doo time with Fred and Wilma and then it was off to the bridge. And we finish today’s blog thingy with good news because our team member is out of the woods and is on the road to recovery.

See you tomorrow.

Your friend

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