And there I am once again right in the sodding doghouse and all because of best mate Alan….the total and utter bastard.

Yesterday Heidi, Kye and I popped over to their house for a cuppa (spelt correctly) tea during which his beautiful wife Alison decided to proclaim just how wonderful he was around the house and that he was able to multitask. Heidi looked on with cow eyes and I could see that Alan’s greatness would only highlight the fact that I was a useless sod whose multitasking skills only involved being able to pee in the shower.

Alan can apparently wallpaper the living room, put new tiles down in the bathroom, put up a shelf and defuse a nuclear bomb all before lunch. “Why can’t you be more like that?” moaned my wife as we drove home while I dreamt of multitasking different ways to murder my so called best mate.

To my wife, his wife and apparently legions of other women Alan is “the man” whose tool bag is “always ready to help.”

Me……..I think he’s bloody weird. I mean……he is fanatical about the workings of everything. For fun, he will take his old Landrover engine to pieces, and for relaxation, he will plane some wood. At night, he takes any new tool he has purchased to bed so he can, “look at them.”

Yep he is a fanatic and anyone who does not have his abilities is looked upon as being a lesser mortal…..someone who is not a real man……..someone who is used for reproduction only.

We had a good old argument about this. Alan draws outlines of all his tools on the wall so he can see immediately when one is missing. Meanwhile I am confused by which way a battery goes in anything. Alan is organised and enjoys watching This Old House and reads Practical Woodworking and Advanced Mechanics Weekly. Meanwhile I watch The Sopranos and West Wing, read “Latvian Big Jugs” magazine and couldn’t give a crap about the inner workings of 1965 Jaguar E Type engine.

I drive him nuts because I don’t read instruction manuals and because my brain doesn’t compute how to get anything to work. I remember once how he watched me trying to hook a bit of bait to the end of a fishing line. Eventually he could take no more, snatched the tangled line from me and did the job for me.

And that is the point of today’s blog thingy. If you cannot do something, then get someone who can to do it for you.

I spent years at school trying to understand Mr Sonnen’s math class. His classes were supposed to last an hour but because he was the most boring man in the world and spoke in monotones that turned his class into sloths and lasted three days.

He did his best to teach me long division and multiplication but I never understood a word. I always hoped that I would and one day I would wake up to discover that I did……but I don’t ……. but it doesn’t matter. Because now if I need to divide one number by another, I turn on Mr Casio and get him to do it on my behalf.

It’s the same story if I go into Alan’s workshop. Heidi told me to go and watch him so I could pick up some tips. Why? Why would I need to learn how to use a lathe? If I need something lathing I will call a lather. And besides Alan’s machine looks bloody dangerous as well. So asking a big fat brainless lump like me to learn how to use a lathe is like asking me to learn how to use a tampon. Pointless…………..and bloody painful!

Heidi’s bollocking also stems from the fact that as I write we are having some work done on the house. The driveway has a hole in it and needs concreting or something. So for the next three days a white van is parked outside and men in baseball caps who chew pencils, listen to loud music on an old radio, drink our tea and coffee and show the crack of their arse when they bend over are redoing the drive. Both Heidi and Alan think that I should have been able to do this myself. Do it myself my arse. I can’t work our coffee machine. I don’t understand how to open the main curtain in the showrooms. Plumbing is witchcraft. The dishwasher is a vindictive bastard that wants to kill me.

Yep Alan is boring and methodical to the point where you want to use the lathe on his dangly bits. But we need people like him who can weld and repair and fix and mend, in the same way as we need people like me who can….. er…….. ummmmm……… er ……. ummmmm……oh bugger.

We still teach woodwork and engineering in British schools which is a total waste of time. These days all our kids need to is how to fix a wireless broadband modem and how to transfer Eye Tunes from your Eyepad to your Eyepod. I don’t know how to do this either which is why I always have to call and get a man in India to explain it for me.

Yep, men like Alan make men like me look like troglodytes with no more right to live on God’s earth than something that lives in elephant poo. Yet as I said with out the Alans of the world. ………where would we be?

People who can fix things are in great demand and surely the greatest unsung hero on a cruise ship is the chief engineer. Remember they are responsible for everything which lights up, moves and makes noise on board a ship. That is a very simple explanation but really gives the idea the vast area they are responsible for. Plus they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of 99% of the technical systems of the ship, the only exception is the entertainment light and sound system where they share a 50/50 responsibility.

This includes power plant and main propulsion, air conditioning, electrical distribution, sanitary system, galley equipment, spa, pools and safety system, etc, etc……Beside all this, the chief engineer involves taking care of all the 70-plus members of the engine department both on a professional and a personal level.

At the Captain’s Celebration I see guests each and every week head straight to shake the captain’s hand ………and rightfully so. But maybe we should also shake the hand of the chief and thank him for all he does and simply say “thanks chief.”

Time for today’s Q and A…….here we go.

Kathie asked:
Hi John- Please reply! Thanks

Just a question we seem not to be able to get a correct answer for: We are sailing on the SPIRIT Jan 2012 it is a 9 day and has a 2 days in Cabo, being that you have to get back on the boat at 6 00 in the evening some of the people in our group would like to know if they can get a room in Cabo to be able to enjoy the nightlife and reboard the ship on the 2nd day in Cabo? I haven’t been able to get an answer so thought maybe you could!!! Thanks so much and Glad to hear that Heidi and Kye made it home safe.

Thanks again
Kathie Geistler

John Says:
Hello Kathie

This new Carnival Spirit itinerary is of course absolutely brilliant. Now to answer your question about Cabo San Lucas, the answer is yes you may stay overnight in a hotel but there is a small sized Megan Fox but and a really big Rosanne Barr sized but as well. First of all if you are going to do this you must make sure you tell the guest services desk first. They will need to make sure that they inform the local immigration authorities which is just a formality but necessary. The guest services associate will also make sure we inform ship security as well so that we can balance our APASS system which is our security who’s on board machine thingy. But here is the big but. Remember that Cabo is a tender port and if you are in a hotel overnight and the following morning weather conditions do not allow for a safe tendering operation then the ship will have to leave …………without you. Personally I wouldn’t do it. Why spend extra money on a hotel and not enjoy the facilities of the ship that night? Anyway, whatever you decide to do I hope you have a brilliant cruise and if you have any other questions please let me know.Thanks for the kind words.

Best wishes
John

Dr. Deany Cheramie Asked:
Please Reply:
John,

I have cruised 4 times with Carnival, mostly out of New Orleans (except for my first at the age of 18 on the Mardi Gras!). I regret to say that I have yet to win a “ship on a stick.” I have tried on the Conquest (pre-Katrina–that bitch!) and on the Fantasy.

Now I’m taking the Carnival Triumph for the Dec 27, 2010 cruise (New Years Eve in Cozumel!). My colleagues at work are daring me to come back with a ship on a stick. Some of them have earned their own in the past, and the little trophies hold places of honor in their cubes.
Could you speak with the CD for the Carnival Triumph about me receiving a ship on a stick? I’m willing to do the worst karaoke you can imagine for the honor of receiving this bauble.

Thank you,
Dr. Deany

John Says:
Hello Dr. Deany Cheramie,

Doc……..consider a solid gold plastic trophy yours if you send me some free hemmorrhoid cream. I will make sure you get your trophy and I wish you a brilliant time

Best wishes
John

Janet SammonsHi Asked:
John!!

Icebreaker Vic, All I can think of is “shut up”. John, I’m feeling badly that you are alone again. I really wonder why Heidi and Kye just don’t sail with you all the time.

John Says:
Hello Janet Sammons,

Well here I am home again with the girls. Heidi and I have often spoken about her and Kye cruising more but while there are many good things about that there are some difficulties as well. Routine is important for Kye as is being able to do normal everyday toddler type things, some of which are impossible when you are a small child on a ship for weeks at a time. Anyway, it will be slightly easier for me on your Carnival Magic next year as flying time from London to Barcelona is only 2 hours and they can come and go as often as they want. I am sorry if I come across as miserable when they are not with me…..although most of the time it’s because I am. Thanks for thinking of us, that’s very kind.

Best wishes
John

Scott Gallant Asked:
JOHN, PLEASE REPLY

We are going on the 04/17/2011 sailing on the Valor and I have a question regarding dry dock. I understand that the Valor will be in dry dock in late January/early February. Do you know what will be done to her? Thanks in advance for all the laughs I get from reading your blog. This will be first cruise and I have learned a tonne from you!

Scott

John Says:
Hello Scott,

You are correct and the Carnival Valor while not having any major structural changes will have lots of very important work done both inside and outside of the vessel. New carpets, bow to stern deep cleaning and essential maintenance that can only be done when a ship has no guests onboard are the main inside jobs that will be carried out. Sometimes new propeller blades will be added as well as work on the engines that again can only be carried out during a dry dock scenario. The bottom line is that when you cruise you in April it will be on a ship that will have had loads of money spent on her to make sure she looks and feels her best until her next time out of the water. Thanks for those kind words and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog thingy and that you have a brilliant cruise next year.

Best wishes
John

MissKitty Asked:
Please Reply
John,

The PC crap is just that. People are to easily offended, by what is meant to be silly or a joke!

I agree, we need to be respectful of people with mental or other disabilities, but we have lost the ability to tease and play.
Tell me; is this like this in England or other places, besides the US?

John Says:
Hello Miss Kitty Asked:

I am afraid that it is the same here and although I agree with you that respect must be given to a point there has to be some room for laughter. I know that comedians sometimes cause offense, well, isn’t that their job? One of the most talented writers I have ever met is Gene Sloan from USA Today. He recently described my humour as being “inappropriate” and I can see his point to a certain degree. However, comments like these are a hazard of comedy performers and comedy writers. Like smoking, it’s an issue that will always be debated and never be resolved. So, there are problems. But we don’t need more and more rules and PC regulations; we need more laughter and a willingness to admit to mistakes, no more than that. And if any of my comments have upset people here or on stage I will be the first to learn from those mistakes and apologise. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Best wishes
John

John Asked:
PLEASE REPLY!
John,

I have just read that Carnival will not be giving comment cards to guests on the ship anymore. Instead an E-Mail will be sent after the cruise. My parents live in a gated community in Florida and are frequent cruisers with Carnival. Most of the other people living in the community cruise at least twice a year. Many of these cruise a lot with Carnival (my parents have cruised enough to be “Milestone”). They have now asked me how people without a computer can comment on their cruise experience. Most of the people in their community do not have E-Mail because they do not have computers (“Computers look like work, and I did not retire to work in an office”). Someone even asked if a Carnival cruise now can be only be booked by someone who has E-Mail. Please give us more details about this and how people without E-Mail can pass on comments.

Thanks.

John says:
Hello John,

That is a very good point indeed. We have indeed stopped handing out the comment cards onboard and replaced them with a review card that is sent to our guests via e-mail. I know that some people are not getting them who want them and I am working on this at the moment. However, there is obviously a situation that you have correctly highlighted where those with no computers and e-mail access will not have the chance to get one at all. I am not sure what the answer is as we definitely won’t be returning to onboard cards anytime soon. I will certainly bring up this point to the beards when I meet with them in Miami next week and you will for sure hear more on this subject in the days ahead. Thanks for letting me know about this and if your family have cruised recently and have and good points or constructive criticism they wish to pass on, please do so via this blog thingy and I will be happy to act on it for you.

Best wishes to all
John

Crazycruiser Deb Asked:
PLEASE REPLY URGENTLY !!

My partner and I will be on the Legend in December for the New Years Eve cruise. Can you tell me the dress code please for the party?
I also want to suggest as other Cruise Critic members have done that you answer more questions and not spend to much time on the “fillinng” this will mean that you would be able to answer 30 or more questions a day. I think if you were to poll the people who read the blog and the people who are Cruise Critic followers you will find that most will say the same.

I hope you answer my question as quickly as possible as I need to make packing plans.

John Says:
Hello CrazycruiserDeb,

Thanks for the comments on the blog. I hope that you are wrong and that most people like the blog as is and that taking all the information and fun out of the blog would reduce its appeal. Anyway, the dress code for New Years Eve onboard the Carnival Legend will be marked as Cruise Elegant. You will find that most guests will dress for the dinner part of the evening and while some will stay elegantly dressed for the entire night, just as many will change into something more comfortable for the party itself. The festivities and countdown to 2011 will be centred around the Lido Deck so a more casual dress code as I said may be preferred. The Carnival Legend docks on Sunday and New Years Eve is on a Friday so you don’t have to worry about packing the night of the party. I hope this helps with your packing plans.

Best wishes
John

Daniel Grief Asked:
John, (reply at your discretion)

Regarding the comment by IceBreakerVic and the whole “smoking” issue.

I have sailed most of the other cruise lines, (unhappily), and note that most have very strict and IMO severe rules re: smoking in any public area… outside or inside, including cabins. One reason I don’t sail with them. Now I know that there exists “smoke eaters” that are widely used in many casinos and lounges/bars throughout the US, and wonder why the ships could not be fitted with these in areas like the casino, lounges, etc. They work fantastically and you cannot smell any smoke in the room because the smoke is sucked up into the ‘smoke eater’. No one complains of smoke in the Vegas casinos that I know of.

I am a smoker and enjoy having a cocktail and a cigarette at my leisure. I also do smoke in the cabin and always bring a spray room de-smoker bought at ‘Home Depot’. It works! I also would not spend (lose) my money in the casino if it were non-smoking. While I appreciate the sentiments of those that do not smoke, I also find some can be extreme in their hatred of smokers. THERE HAS TO BE A MIDDLE GROUND! So while discussing this with the ‘beards’, please be aware that smokers are not 2nd class citizens and shouldn’t be treated as such.

Carnival allows smoking at the pool area on the starboard side of the ship…Good Compromise!

Carnival allows smoking in the Piano Bar… again the right place as lounge singers around a piano conjure memories of Casablanca, or Billy Joel (~ sing us a song, your the piano man…~)

Casino… having a few tables non smoking seems to work… although as on my last cruise (Liberty Sept 25) not many sat at those tables. Dining room should remain non-smoking…Good Job! Cigar Bar.. YES. Overall, the current policy seems fine with me as a smoker… as a compromise. Sure, some want the entire ship smoke free, (didn’t Carnival try this a few years ago?) as I am certain some smokers would like to smoke throughout the entire ship! Middle ground. Try having the ‘beards’ look into these “smoke-eaters” and see if that ends this constant battle.

Thanks again for all you do.
Daniel

John Says:
Hello Daniel,

Thanks so much for your honest and open thoughts on smoking and as I mentioned earlier smoking is an issue that will always be debated and may never be resolved. It is always important to remember that compared to hotels and resorts on land the cruise industry as a whole is typically more liberal with our smoking policies as we try to take everyone’s feelings into account.

All our cigar bars have smoke extraction systems in them and they do a great job and that’s one of the reasons why I am such an advocate of the cigar bars. I do understand how non smokers feel when they walk into a cabin and smell smoke. I am sure the spray you mentioned works well but for some it is not enough which is why if my opinion is asked I always say that smoking in the cabins should not be allowed but restricted to balconies only. There is a middle ground and right now I think Carnival has one foot there and is thinking carefully about where to plant the other. This will not be the last I shall write on this subject and I am sure it’s not the last time I will hear from you Daniel…………..at least I certainly hope not.Thanks for taking the time to write.

Best wishes
John


Mary Haverland Asked:

John (please reply)

I really enjoy your blog and great personality.
My husband Terrance and I are going to be on the Glory on 11/28/2010 to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. Terrance is the most wonderful husband anyone could ask for. Could you send him something to our cabin 6481?

We are a bit of different type of cruiser in that we spend the evenings strolling the ship while everyone else enjoys dinner in the dining room. We’ve done the dining room and have had great service, but we really enjoy the alone time on deck while everyone else is eating. That’s why we love cruising so much you can do as little or as much on the ship as you desire. Of course after strolling the deck you likely find us in the casino or the piano bar.

This will be our 12th Carnival cruise and we are looking forward to it as if it was our 1st Carnival cruise. Thank you for all you do to make Carnival such a great vacation!

John Says:
Hello Mary Haverland,

I hear more and more people tell me that they don’t use the dining room and eat all their dinner time meals on Lido. Certainly the menu choices are excellent and solitude most nights can be found there. I want to thank you for your loyalty to Carnival and I will be happy to send your husband something and wish you both a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes to you both
John

Lisa Asked:
John, PLEASE REPLY

Still trying to check rates for ES booking on your Carnival.com website. Since the new website has come up, there is no breakdown of rates between 1, 2 and 3rd passenger in the room.

Love the new layout, but it certainly looks like it is keeping those of us that booked ES from getting any kind of credit if rates go down… Can you help?

Thank you in advance for your help!
Lisa

John Says:
Hello Lisa

As I don’t have beard and there is no tofu in my refrigerator I am not going to be able to help you. However I know 344 Stephanies who can help and a few chaps whose name starts with an “E” who can as well. One of those will be in touch soon.

Best wishes
John

And that’s all for today and I will return with more tomorrow. As you can see the number of comments has risen these last few blogs and as I read them all I continue to be reminded how important you writing them is because this blog thingy is read by the top beards in Miami. Please keep them coming.

Before I forget, Carnival yet again won another huge batch of Porthole Readers Choice Awards. Here’s my friend Vance from PR to give you all the details.

Carnival Cruise Lines took home six Porthole Magazine Annual Readers Choice Awards, earning top honors in the Best Value for the Money and Best Entertainment for the 12th consecutive year.

Since the awards were established in 1999, Carnival Cruise Lines has earned 115 individual honors – the most of any cruise line.

The annual awards are based on on-line and mail-in surveys of Porthole readers who are asked to rate their favorite cruise line in a variety of product- and service-related categories.

Carnival’s 2010 Porthole Readers Choice Awards include:

  • Best Value for the Money
  • Best Entertainment
  • Best Mexican Riviera Itineraries
  • Best Casinos
  • Best Web Site
  • Best Theme Cruises

“Carnival Cruise Lines continues to innovate and evolve the ‘Fun Ship’ vacation experience and to consistently win so many awards in so many different categories year after year is a wonderful testament to these efforts,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.  “Further, to be recognized for providing superior value and entertainment – two core elements of a Carnival cruise – for 12 consecutive years is very gratifying,” he added.

“With six wins this year alone, Carnival Cruise Lines continues to be a reader favorite,” said Bill Panoff, publisher and editor-in-chief of Porthole Cruise Magazine, the leading consumer cruise magazine. “Year after year, Carnival proves that it has a product that cruisers appreciate — from value to entertainment to itineraries. I congratulate them on all of their much-deserved wins.”

That’s brilliant and to win Best Entertainment and Best Value for 12 years running is wonderful indeed.

Just one quick follow up from yesterday and a question asked by Elizabeth who wanted to know if any of the cove balconies on her Carnival Dream and her Carnival Magic were motor scooter accessible. I checked with the ship and I am sorry to report that none of these cabins have the wider doors. I thought you might like to see which cabins on the Dream class of ships were accessible though and so here they are:

I hope you can read this OK Elizabeth and if you have any questions please let me know.

Yesterday we highlighted the first of our brilliant piano bar entertainers and we continue today by introducing you to the performer on the Carnival Victory. Here then is Justin Abrams:

Justin Abrams

Name: Justin Abrams

Hometown: Orange County, California

This is what Karl with a K the CD on the Carnival Victory has to say about him:

Justin has been with the company 4 months now and has just begun to get into the piano bar scene and is already making a great impact. His favorite style of song to play is classic rock and he loves being a little wild and having fun with the crowds with lots of interaction, competitions and various theme nights to get the energy going. He is warm and welcoming and on his way to being a great entertainer within the company. He has a natural way of having the guests want to come back night after night. Being in music all his life he was in a band back home for a long period of time before deciding to undertake the adventure upon the seas.

Most Requested Song: Sweet Caroline

He sounds like a great asset to the entertainment onboard and just what we look for in our piano bar entertainment. Has anyone cruised with him? We will feature another performer tomorrow.

This morning I awoke and checked my emails to find that I have one from Carnival’s legal team asking me to call them. After reading why I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, vomit or just go back to bed and spend the day dribbling on myself.

Why…….well apparently a guest who sailed with me recently has contacted his lawyers Bastard, Bastard & Bastard……………and that guest is Mr Cloonpitt.

Now for those who don’t know who that is I will explain and do so very carefully because obviously this blog thingy could eventually be used as evidence. Anyway, the facts are that I chose six volunteers to come on stage with me for the welcome aboard show. Amongst them was a fine young man who got into the whole spirit of the show and all was well. However the next morning he demanded to speak to me telling me that I must remove the show which had been recorded and was playing on the cabin televisions. The reasons behind his demands were that he was an actor and if I played the show I would owe him royalties…….lots of royalties. I respected his request and had the entertainment technical manager edit out his interview portion so there was no speaking although I kept the spoon game section in as it involved all six of the guests.

This made Mr Cloonpitt very unhappy and he demanded I remove the entire show which on the third day of the cruise I eventually did.

He spent the rest of the cruise telling me I owed him money and that he would be contacting his agent which……I guess he did. Now I have cleared all of the above with the Carnival lawyers and they have no problem with me telling you about this because amongst other things Mr Cloonpitt volunteered to do the show and there is a waiver thingy within the ticket policies. However, I now I have to write a formal report about this and that’s got me mad as I wanted to spend the afternoon with Kye and Heidi. I had Googled the actors name and nothing came up on IMDB.com ………….he hadn’t even played a dead body on ER. I guess he is like many in California, indeed the world, who wants to be an actor and who wants to be famous.

When I was growing up and anyone asked me “John, what do you want to be when you grow up?”……I would always say a police officer. My father found the ambition to be not of a high enough standing and kept on at me to upgrade to brain surgeon…or chairman of a leading cruise corporation.

As I got older I wanted to be a vet, a spy, a pilot, a novelist and a porn star. As I reached the age of 18 it was obvious to everyone that I had neither the brains nor the equipment to be any of those. And so I flirted with Customs and Excise. Had a brief affair with Lloyds of London until I buggered off and HOORAH…..…unless you’re my father, whose still dreams of me holding a scalpel – a cruise director. My sister wanted to be a horse riding thingy and a fashion designer. She could have done either but ended up being a banker …..a highly sought after head hunter banker with a beautiful family.

My mates were the same. Ask Danny, Alan and all my friends what they wanted to be when they grew up and they would have probably said “a businessman,” a pilot, an astronaut and in my best mate Alan’s case…………….a ballerina.

Now, I admit that I did go through a phase when I had rock star dreams but they involved singing into my sister’s hairbrush in the privacy of my 80′s rock bedroom…….I was Freddie Mercury (Queen), I was David Coverdale (Whitesnake) and I was Ian Gillian (Deep Purple)… little did I know I would end up looking like sodding Meatloaf. I still feel guilty about the time I was singing Whitesnake’s “Still Of The Night” into my sister’s hairbrush in my underpants and my Great Aunt Rosie walked into my room…………she died three days later.

Yep……..these days it’s not just that people want to be TV stars or pop stars instead of doctors or teachers ……it’s that they want to be these things even though they don’t have even a dollop of what’s required to reach their goals. I mean, look at the thousands and thousands of people who line up to audition for American Idol programs. Every one of them believes that they will win ………… become famous…………..and become rich.

In Mr Cloonpitt’s case, I think that maybe he truly believed he was famous or maybe even more so that he will one day be famous in which case the last thing he wants to have brought up on Entertainment Tonight is some fat Brit telling him to shove a spoon down his pants? Sitting here writing this blog I actually feel very sorry for the young man.

I still have dreams of having my own TV show but I know that there is more chance of Kathy Lee Gifford standing on the deck of an RCI ship saying how amazing it………oh bugger. I can only imagine how many ridiculous lawsuits are slapped against companies each and every day which is why we have had to give so much power to the beards and their high visibility jackets and their watch your step, head, swim at your own risk, coffee is hot signs are plastered all over the ships.

Meanwhile it seems absolutely bloody ridiculous that I will have to sit here in my underpants writing a report about an actor no bugger has ever heard of and how his first starring role was in my welcome aboard show. I woke up totally relaxed and now having read this e-mail I feel totally pissed off. Heidi saw my mood and told me to cheer up which is like asking a turkey to high five you because it’s Christmas Eve.

But I guess I had better crack on………..oh but first…..time for a break……..while I jump around in my underpants , banging my head and singing “Smoke on the Water”……..come on everyone ……. strip down to your underpants……and join in.

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.