Nothing To Sneeze At

January 31, 2011 -

John Heald

People watching is not something I usually get to do when I am a cruise director. However when I am on a handover week like I am here on the Carnival Freedom I can, for the most part be the grey man and watch the world go by. And so on embarkation day I sat with my Diet Coke on Lido Deck. I had already paid homage to the captain and was waiting for a cabin and for the CD Ryan to return from having his gentlemen’s sausage area waxed or whatever metro sexual treatment he was having done at the spa.

So as I sat and sipped I watched a 20-something girl walking across lido deck, head bowed, fingers moving across her Eye Phone, texting or e-mailing when she tripped on the leg of a deck chair ………… fell like a sack of feathers …………and her Eyephone went skidding across the deck.

It had obviously hurt because I could see that her she had a cut on her leg but her first priority was not to check her skinned shin but to limp toward her beloved Eyephone which was halfway across the deck and was now lying next to the pool. I couldn’t help but giggle as I she tried to shake it back to life like a dead hamster. A bar waitress had seen what had happened and went to assist her and led her off to get medical attention. Meanwhile the guests around me were laughing out loud……and I must admit…..it was bloody (literally) hilarious.

Texting while walking is something me and you are probably all guilty of. I am sure the health and safety beards at Carnival would like to ban the zombie-like walk down Promenade Deck while sending that all important message “had 4 choc melt cakes 2nite” while knocking Doris age 89 from Pembroke Pines, Florida knocked over like a bowling pin.

Let’s get on with some Q and A shall we as there is lots to cover today. Here we go.

Sara Asked:
Please Reply

John, we were on the Splendor on October 3rd, and I was just wondering who was the young man who seemed to be kind of you assistant a lot. I can’t remember his name, but he was very kind when my son got lost and couldn’t find me, and I’d just like to know. I know he was probably in his 20′s and British. Thank You 🙂

Sara

John Says:
Hello Sara,

I hope you had fun with us on the Carnival Splendor. I think the young man you are referring to was Robin. He was my only British entertainment staff member and I was so glad to read that you thought of him well. I will pass this comment to him and hope to see you soon.

Best wishes to you all
John

Connie Asked:
PLEASE REPLY ASAP

Dear John,

We are thrilled to celebrate our 21st anniversary with you on the Carnival Freedom, sailing Feb. 12, 2011. My concern is the ship’s plumbing. With you and my dear husband on board at the same time, should I notify the engineers, maintenance, officers, and others of the possible overload of the facilities? We’re in 2308, in case you have questions. Love your blog…see you in a couple of months.

Connie

John Says:
Hello Connie,

I have taken the liberty of setting up a schedule which allows for a three-hour gap between your husband and I visiting the bathroom. This of course does not take into consideration the concern that we both eat at the Indian Tandoor at the same time. See you soon.

Best wishes to you both.
John

Scranton Cruiser Asked:
John,

Your food sucks!!!

Norm.

John Says:
Hello Scranton Cruiser,

Yes it does. Maybe I am using too much shepherd in my shepherd’s pie and I won’t bother mentioning what I may have used too much of in my spotted dick.

Bon Appétit
John

Kathy M. asked:
Hi John, PLEASE REPLY,

I know that you will be reading this after Christmas so I would like to wish you and your family a Merry Belated Christmas.

John, I have been wondering about something and I know that you would know the answer. When the Carnival Splendor comes out of dry dock, will the crew that was on her at the time of the fire, be going back to her or will they have a whole new crew. I have often wondered about situations like this, so that is why I am asking you.

Also will the same Captain and the same Officers be going back to the Carnival Splendor (I wish that Carnival would go back to just saying the name of the ship instead of having Carnival as part of their name) and when does the crew report to the ship, a few days before or a week before to get it ready. I think it would be great if the crew that was on the ship at the time of the fire could all be back there for that first week would just be awesome.

Please give my love to Heidi and Kye.

Your friend,
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M,

I hope you had a happy Christmas and thanks for taking the time to write again. Most of the crew who were on the Carnival Splendor during the fire are now working on other Carnival ships or are on vacation. Now most of the senior management will be the same although there will be a different captain. As I write a new cast of dancers and singers are on the way to San Francisco rehearsing the shows with only two of the previous cast still there, one of which is the Dance Captain Bubbles. The entertainment staff will be led by Cruise Director Felipe and Ryan, who is here with me on the Carnival Freedom, will also return. But for the most part the service crew will be different to those who did such a brilliant job during the incident. I do have to disagree with you regarding naming the ship. With so many vessel names being the same it is important that we give each ship her first name……………which of course is Carnival.

I can tell you that I am going to use all my powers of persuasion to visit the Carnival Splendor before I return home.

Best wishes and thanks for your continuing support.
John

Tim (9/11 patch guy) Asked:
John (please reply)

Malcolm Burn is perfect to stay on the Miracle, we have been on that ship twice in the last year and just love his humour (spelt correctly). I can’t believe you and “Big Sexy” are to be together on the Carnival Magic. What will that be like?? Josh filled in for Malcolm on the Miracle and did an outstanding job.

Good luck!

Tim……Patch Guy

John Says:
Hello Tim ….Patch Guy

I hope this e mail finds you in good health. Malcolm does a great job as CD and has many fans. Here he is.

I think that we are blessed with a great group of cruise directors at the moment. I truly hope we get to sail together soon.

Best wishes
John

Jodi Asked:
John: Please reply at your convenience,

As I have mentioned before I LOVE the Paradise and will be sad to see her go, but am very much looking forward to the Inspiration. That said, can I infer from your remarks above that Jeff will be staying on the west coast with Inspiration?? If so, good on ya’ Carnival, and thanks.
We enjoyed our first cruise with Jeff and Carnival last January, and I AM HOOKED on Carnival. So much so that DH and I decided to cancel our HAL cruise we had booked for May 2011. So we can go on Paradise one more time before she moves. BTW he wasn’t even sure he wanted to cruise in the first place (I was a virtual cruiser via Cruise Critic for years before I finally got him on Paradise, before that we had booked and canceled with RCI twice, and carnival once) So please let Jeff and the whole Paradise crew how grateful I will always be to them ’cause now he is the one who is looking at the website and suggesting that we need to go again!

We are planning to be on the 4-day sailing on Paradise May 16, 2011. You might want to give Jeff a heads up I will be anticipating a well advertised Groove for St. Jude’s and am willing to lend a hand any way I can or with any other thing they want to do for the kids 🙂

Happy Sailing to all!

John Says:
Hello Jodi,

I know that the people on the West Coast will indeed miss the Carnival Paradise but I also know that they will love the Carnival Inspiration. Jeff Bronson is indeed a brilliant CD and I will certainly make sure he is aware that you are coming to visit. He has been blessed with a beautiful addition to his family and I thought you might like to see Jeff with his pride and joy whose name is Jerico.

I am so glad that you were able to your DH up the gangway and I wish you another brilliant Carnival cruise.

Best wishes
John

Ed Candelmo Asked:
John (please reply)

I have been on stage with you a couple times in the talent show singing Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and have been Garth and Frank in the Legends show. I will be going on the Victory February 27th and would love to be in (I’m assuming Karl Bird is CD) his show similar to your bedtimes stories show. I love to be on stage to ham it up a little, have been in theater for many many years now.My cabin # is 1415

John Says:
Hello Ed,

Thank you for being one of those guests whose willingness to participate in the shows makes it even more fun for others. I remember you singing in the talent show and I have let Karl with a K know that you will soon be there. Have a great time and tell us all about it when you get home.

Best wishes
John

DWDOG Asked:
John – Please reply –

We just got back from the Fantasy last week and took 4 mouthwash bottles of rum with no problems whatever……… A lot of folks we spoke with just brought on bottles of liquor and had no problems either. Telling my friends on Cruise Critic just how easy it is to smuggle. a ha ha ha ha ha ha

John Says:
Hello DWDog,

Many congratulations, you must be very proud. You know, I can never understand just why people feel it necessary to brag about things like this. Anyway, I am forwarding this to our VP of Security and Surveillance who will in turn alert his teams to look out for rum disguised as mouthwash and for people whose breath smells like a camel’s scrotum.

Hope you had a fun cruise.

Best wishes
John

Helen Schwartzentruber Asked:
Please reply…

John,

I have been contemplating doing this cruise for awhile. This is our second carnival cruise. I am booked on the Glory the week before; I’ve been wondering whether I should do our first back to back…

John, I have to thank you a gazillion times as, I stumbled (perhaps a bit too much cocktails, not that there is thing such as too many) upon your blog. Oh My God, I had red wine shoot out of my nose a few times, your sense of humour is wicked.

I knew that I was hooked when I woke up thinking about your thingy…… and I couldn’t wait to have more of your thingy…. (Won’t share that with my husband)

Needless to say, after reading two days of your blog, as well having over 3 friggin feet of snow fall in 36 hours, I decided to book this bloggers cruise as well, only because of you. Let’s get this party started…..Whohoo our first back to back cruise.!!!!

Just wondering whether we get a bottle of bubbly for booking a back to back cruise?

We have our daughter joining us on our first week cruise, and the second week will just be “The Love of my Life” and myself. Our first week of our back to back Feb 20th on the Glory we are in 7410 and our second week on the bloggers cruise is 7417. I can’t wait to meet you and thank you for making me shoot red wine out of my nose…… A nice sinus cleanser……

Wishing you and your family all the best during the Holidays….
May 2011 be filled with Lots of Laughter, Health and Happiness!!!!

Cheers John

Your newest admirer of your thingy……
Helen and Doug

John Says:
Hello Helen and Doug,

Thank you for that heartwarming post and I bid you a very warm welcome to the blog thingy. I hope it gives you many more “wine out of the nose” moments. Sailing on a back to back cruise is a brilliant experience and watching everyone debark the ship knowing you don’t have to and have another cruise ahead of you is a wonderful feeling. I will send you both a little something and will ask your Cruise Director George to deliver it to your cabin. You will love George by the way, he is brilliantly funny.

Have a great time.

Best wishes to you both
John

D. Washington Asked:
(REPLY)

I am so sick of reading the pathetic comments by the sad, sad no life people who tell you how wonderful you are blah blah blah and then ask for something having kissed your large white ass. Then you go and book out all the tables for 2 which means the people who don’t kiss your large white ass get screwed because when they get on the boat because all the tables are gone.

John Says:
Hello D.Washington,

Please don’t get yourself all worked up about this. You don’t have to kiss anything for me to help you. Please just ask simply what you need and I will help you. Oh and just two more quick notes. The people here on the blog are not as you cruelly described them and my arse is indeed lilywhite……..but surprisingly and in comparison to the rest of my body…….normal sized. I remain here at your service.

Best wishes
John

That’s all for today. It is great to be back writing blogs and I am sorry for the inconsistency these past weeks but I am back in the flow again. I am way behind on my Q&A but I have been answering dozens of questions everyday on Facebook. Just a few things about this. If you have a time sensitive request, say something that is just 1 week or so away then please by all means slap a request on my Facebook Wall thingy. If you need something for a cruise that is some weeks away, please post your request here on the blog thingy. I will though get to you all eventually through these two mediums. Oh yes, with regard to The Chef’s Table, please post these only on the blog and not on Facebook and I promise I will make sure your confirmation is sent to you. If after 2 weeks that confirmation does not come please let me know on my FB wall or here and I will chase the ship up for you.

I cannot tell you how brilliant it is to be on a Carnival ship again. The last time was of course on the Carnival Splendor and to be back on a ship that is full of working parts and smiling, happy guests is just marvelous. The cruise director as I mentioned is Ryan Fitzgerald who apart from being metro sexual and having a bathroom cabinet full of more products than Paris Hilton’s is a brilliant CD. His welcome aboard show was very funny and I can see that he is well liked by the guests and the crew.

Over the next few days I will be introducing you to some of the people I will be working with during my short stay and talking about the ports and the ship herself. And obviously next cruise I will be sharing stories with you about the guests and some of the things they say and do. I have met lots of Facebookers and bloggers here already and talking of bloggers I want to mention to the 300 or so that are joining me on the Bloggers Cruise on the Carnival Glory that we have a private excursion available in St Thomas should you wish to join me. Here is the description.
If you enjoy history and scenic beauty as well as the best shopping in the Caribbean, this tour is a must! Experience the spectacular beauty of St. Thomas, the charming historic district of the Kongens (King’s) Quarter – “the Williamsburg of the Caribbean”, Blackbeard’s Castle, and enjoy the famous Main Street duty-free shopping all in one tour.

• First your tour begins with a picturesque ride up to the world famous 17th century Blackbeard’s Castle, where you’ll step back into the age of the Caribbean pirates, and you’ll be greeted by your Cruise Director, John.

• Explore the surrounding Kongens Quarter, the former center of Danish colonial enterprise and visit several National Landmark Properties and historic colonial manor houses set on approximately 5 acres of grounds and dating as far back as the late 1600’s. Historic structures include the world famous Blackbeard’s Castle and former manor houses Villa Notman, Britannia House, Crown House (once used by visiting Danish Royalty), Haagensen House, the Rum Museum and Hotel 1829, all listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

• See the world’s largest collection of life-sized pirate sculptures, crafted in copper and bronze, the world’s most extensive collection of authentic hand-made West Indian Mahogany furniture, the ruins of the 17th century Pedersen Estate, and the old rum blending facility.

• Visit the Rum Factory and Rum Museum, a boutique-type facility where you can see the only original old-style rum blending process still in operation in the US Virgin Islands. Enjoy sampling some of the varied flavored blends.

• Enjoy a one hour private reception with John.

• See authentic shipwreck artifacts and coins at the West Indian Treasure Company.

• Lush tropical gardens, terraces and fountains, as well as St. Thomas’ unique and famous step street, known as the 99 Steps, add to the splendor of the settings.

• Enjoy any of the three delightful swimming pools, perhaps while imbibing an island cocktail from the bar.

• Finally, before entering the famous downtown shopping, visit the Caribbean World Amber Museum, home of the most extensive collection of amber objects and jewelry in the world, including the “Dino Print” – a piece with a dinosaur’s footprint, the “Master’s Box” sculpted by the Chief Artisan of the renovated Amber Room in Russia as well as the Amber Waterfall, cascading two-stories down and comprised of over 12,000 stones of amber. Following the Amber Museum it’s just a short walk to Main Street where you’ll find the cruise line’s recommended stores for the greatest duty-free shopping in the Caribbean. When you’re ready to head back to the ship, hop aboard the Harbour Safari for the final part of your tour – a short harbor cruise back to the ship.

The reception will include:

  • Mahi Mahi Bites
  • Caribbean Pulled Pork Sandwich Bites
  • Tomato Mozzarella Skewers
  • Chocolate Brownie Bites

I will be there to host the event during the Bloggers Cruise and it still leaves time to shop which is of course the law in St. Thomas and I am currently working with the shopping specialist onboard to get some special discounts at one or more of the shops for our bloggers. The excursion can only be purchased on board and is limited to 150 guests. Hope some of you will join me.

Now I have been away from the blog for some time and during this period there have been three recurring subjects that have been asked by many of you which I will address now. By doing this I will be able to answer the multiple questions I have been asked on these subjects thus not boring you all by answering the same question over and over again.

1. First of all, the tender situation in Belize. There is little more to report here because at the time of writing a stalemate still exists. I have been sent lots of rumours and speculation about what is happening and why. The simple fact of the matter is that we are just trying to provide a safe transition ashore for our guest and to pay a fair price for doing so. I hope the situation is resolved very soon and before the majority of the ships that call into Belize all bugger off to the Med and Alaska……leaving very few ships still calling during the summer. I will keep you posted.

2. And now to Mexico. I must have gotten 50-plus questions and comments this past week alone via my Facebook page alone and I see there are many outstanding on this subject here on the blog thingy. Most of these comments included the rumour that three large cruise ships are to end sailings to Mexico due to security concerns. What was interesting was that the vast majority of the comments and questions I received were in hope that Carnival would not follow suit and say “adios amigo.” Well, here’s the official statement from the beards at Carnival:

Carnival Cruise Lines currently has three ships operating voyages to Mexico from the West Coast. We have two based year-round in Long Beach. A third ship is sailing seasonally from San Diego through April 2012.

Mexico continues to be a popular destination for our guests. Carnival is the largest year-round cruise operator from California to Mexico and the company is committed to its West Coast cruise programs.

In addition to three ships visiting Mexico’s Pacific Coast, 13 Carnival ships call at popular Mexican ports of call along the country’s Gulf Coast, including Cozumel, Progreso and Calica.

Mexico remains an important part of our itinerary plans.

3. So those were the two most commonly asked questions while I was away from the blog ……. along of course with the many I received about the Carnival Splendor. The question was of course “is the ship’s return date of February 20 still on?” And the answer is yes…….absolutely. I can understand the questions given the fact that we had to sadly change the original date of her return, but the engineers are working furiously to make sure that all repairs are carried out and she will return to Long Beach and start her voyages down Mexico way beginning Feb. 20.

Now, one thing that still is worth mentioning is the good old subject of dress code. It was interesting yesterday during elegant night to see that there while many were dressed elegantly a only just lesser amount were not. Now I decided to do some checking and with the help of Ryan the CD and his staff, we did a little survey and I thought you might be interested to see the results. They asked a total of 40 guests who were dressed elegantly and 40 guests who were wearing chinos or jeans and a shirt…not shorts and T-shirts…….just simple cruise casual wear ……….one question.

HAVE YOU CRUISED CARNIVAL BEFORE?

Here are the results:

Guests Dressed in Formal Attire
Yes – 14
No – 26

Guests Dressed in Cruise Casual Attire
Yes – 32
No – 8

Now I found this very interesting indeed and there are many conclusions that can be drawn from this. With such a large percentage of guests not dressed elegantly who have cruised with us before, does this mean that we are not offering enough reasons for them to get dressed up on elegant night? Or, are people changing, been there……..done that………love cruising but just can’t be bothered to get dressed up during my valuable vacation time.

I know this is a very small sample of the 3,100 guests onboard and I can’t tell you the age demographic of those guests we asked. But, they were asked during the same time period of 7:15pm – 8:00pm. I recently asked the question on Facebook about dress code and what people’s thoughts were on this and received 300 replies representing all sides of this discussion. I better say to avoid loads of questions asking if Carnival is changing its dress code policies because we are not………but it certainly continues to be a very interesting subject……………doesn’t it?

My assistant Stephanie (one of the 344) is here with me and one of the projects she is working on for me is to gather all the Capers from across……..bugger……..all the Fun Times from across the fleet and post them here on the blog thingy. I promised you all this and I have not forgotten and I hope to start with this a week today.

Well, as you may have seen from my Facebook video that American Eagle sent my suitcase to Dallas Fort Worth instead of Miami so I had to spend 24 hours in the same pair of underpants which quite honestly is nothing new for me. I am not sure why they chose the name Eagle for these flights as an Eagle is a huge majestic bird with a massive wing span. Which is exactly what an American Eagle flight is not. American sodding Sparrow is more like it. On the return flight from Memphis to Miami I sank my “large white arse” (surely the quote of the day) into a seat that a supermodel would have difficulty sinking her paper thin buttocks into and prepared myself for 2 hours and twenty minutes of total discomfort.

Now I have done 6 trans Atlantic flights in the last three months with little or no incidents to report but this flight made up for that. Behind me was a man of equal size and more to me. The fact that they had seated us on the same side of the plane probably worried the flight attendant had she not been more worried about her bodily functions. I say this because she must have been in her late sixties at least and I am certainly not being ageist here but she spent most of the flight seated either in her flight attendant chair thingy or in the toilet which she visited 4 times. Now admittedly the flight was only half full and after she had huffed and puffed her way down the aisle offering bags of peanuts for just $3,000,000 she returned to her seat and became the first flight attendant I have ever seen…………..take a nap.

So back to the chap behind me who had to ask the old dear for a seat belt extension. I used to have to do this before I shed a few pounds and I know how embarrassing this can be and I started feeling sympathy for him. That was until just a few minutes before take off when he sneezed so violently I felt a shower of spittle hit the top of my head and dribble down the back of my neck. Now most sneezes come in two’s and so expecting another water cannon to hit me I slid down into my chair and sure enough he sneezed again a few seconds later……..and the bastard missed.

Then the fun continued in front of me which brings me to a question. What are the rules for putting the seat back on a plane? I think there is a passage in the Bible that says “do unto others as you would have them ummmm……something to you” but if the person in front of you puts their seat back, then what?

It was as just after the big chap behind me had sprayed snot over me that the lady seated in front of me reclined her seat so that my knees were up by my chin and goodness knows where my bollocks had gone. I had no choice…….and so I began to recline. Normally I try to go back a small amount at a time but on this particular occasion I was exhausted from my St Jude trip and the previous day’s trans-Atlantic flight and so………..I reclined all the way.

Suddenly I felt a vigorous tap on my shoulder. It was the snot monster behind me and he looked outraged. “That’s not right,” he snapped. His tone suggested I had done something immoral. “I have no room for my legs.” I know some people at this point would have immediately raised their seat forward. But I didn’t like his attitude. He was blaming me for his discomfort when it’s the fault of whoever designed the sodding plane.

Also, he wasn’t asking me nicely, he was demanding and rude. What about my right to choose to rest? I looked right at him and said, defiantly, “I’ll move my seat up but just so you know, I don’t like being ordered to do it”……….adding………”Oh and you might like to consider covering your mouth when you sneeze.”

This made matters worse and then loud enough for other passengers to hear he suggested that I have rumpy pumpy with myself which considering the fact that the woman in front of me had fully reclined her seat…………..having rumpy pumpy with myself was already happening.

This guy was your typical rude flyer. The sort that never removes his headphones when the cabin crew speaks to him but will always stare flight attendant’s bottoms…….although maybe not on this American Eagle flight.
He will definitely undo his seatbelt the second the plane lands even if the light is still switched on. I am not a vindictive person but having sneezed over me and refused to allow me to recline my seat I can only hope that the next time he flies someone who has recently had a close relationship with a Mexican pig sneezes over him.

So today we will be in San Juan and I would love to walk around the old town. But because I am an alien I won’t be allowed off the ship here or in St. Thomas because I have yet to pass through a shipboard US CBP check which will happen in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday. But aside from that it is an absolute joy to be back. So this cruise we are on an Eastern 8 day and along with San Juan and St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortola and Nassau. It is a brilliant itinerary.
As I walk around the ship I have found myself being reminded just how fantastic our product is. You see, I spend my time here on the blog talking about smuggling and tenders and sneezing and flying and tables for 2 and my arse and……well…….sometimes I forget to write about the basic, simple fact that a Carnival cruise a brilliant vacation, affordable, incomparable value for money and loads of bloody marvelous fun……. the smiles and the laughter that I have seen here on the Carnival Freedom is absolute testament to that.

Goodnight.
Your friend
John with the “large white arse.”

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.