Looking Back In Splendor

February 21, 2011 -

John Heald

So on Saturday night I minced around the Promenade Deck on the Carnival Splendor travel agent function, shaking hands and being a brand ambassador thingy. I have to admit though I have never been much of a fan of parties. Maybe this comes from the fact that I was hardly ever invited to one when I was younger and if I managed to gate crash one…..well no bugger would speak to me. I would arrive at the party with dreams of meeting a girl……any girl……. who would want to have a bit of rumpy pumpy with me in the back seat of my Dad’s Ford Escort ……….reality was that I would leave alone………..and go for a kebab.

And so the good the bad and the ugly descended on the Carnival Splendor for a night of fun, dancing, shows, loads of eating and a drinking vats of wine.

Now, the invitations had a dress code on them……….because that’s the law. As I told you a few weeks ago, dress codes make me crazy. There used to be just two and that was OK.

Formal……..or casual……..that was it. Now we have Elegant Casual, Casual Elegant, Business Casual, Casual Business and Cruise Casual. The invitation for Saturday 19th event said “Cruise Elegant.” Now I know that’s what we put on the Capers during a ……..ahhh bugger ……….. that’s what we put on the Fun Times but I have never really liked this term since someone came up with it while eating a toasted tofu sandwich on organic bread.

What in the name of all that’s holy is “Cruise Elegant?” I guess I was not the only one who was confused because, as I wandered around the ship last night, I saw people dressed in every possible combination. Jeans and T-shirts…..obviously elegant to them meant wearing the T-shirt that doesn’t have a huge ketchup stain on it…to people who seeing the word elegant had dressed to kill. There were long dresses, short dresses and men with tuxedos of every color and cut.

As I moved on through the ship I started no notice people in various stages of plastic surgery. There was one woman who had undergone some extraordinary eye work and clearly found it very hard to blink. The fact that she looked like a Medusa didn’t seem to upset her. Personally I would have sued the surgeon, but what do I know? This was also California and that meant that everyone at the party has such unbelievably gleaming teeth and they flash them about like rapiers. I’ve started to get really paranoid, and tend to mumble when talking to anyone as everyone stares at your mouth, trying to get a good look.

It was obvious who was single and who was not. The single men were gathered in groups like prides of lions ready to attack the single travel agent. The women were also gathered together in short micro skirts realizing the more skin they showed the better their chances of meeting Mr. Right.  These were not ladies who harbor the romance novel notion that men find kindness, a good heart and a sense of humor important when looking for a spouse; they understand that what men really want is breasts like the Alps a bottom like Megan Fox.

The party really was a wonderful place to “people watch” and also to meet so many people. Honestly, at times it was overwhelming as dozens and dozens of people came up to me and asked for photos and autographs. It seems that the blog thingy and Facebook is quite popular all night long I was hugged and kissed and groped.….. And that was the men. I took loads of photos and it was …… totally humbling. Seriously, though, it was a great night and I need to mention a few things about it which I will do after we get some Q and A out of the way.

Here we go.

Fllady61 Asked:
Please reply

I understand a lot of people like Wee Jimmy. However, I am so glad that Josh Waitzman was nominated and won the CD of the year. He is an awesome amazing person. Anyway back to Wee Jimmy. We sailed with him once. WE NEVER SAW him except for on the TV until the last day. We are not drinkers, and unless you do a lot of drinking, and partying on the ship, you do not see him. Please don’t get me wrong about WEE JIMMY, but he needs to mingle with the non drinking and partying crowd a little more. All the other CD’s we had we ran into a few times each trip. But with him, we did not. Josh “Big Sexy” is our favorite CD. WE have been on 9 cruises and 2 with him. This last cruise was the best thanks to the entertainment staff. And we made a lot of new CCL friends on this cruise.

John Says:
Hello Fllady61,

Isn’t life strange? Yesterday on Facebook I had a very negative comment about Josh AKA Big Sexy from someone who did not enjoy his humor at all and vowed never to cruise with him again. Yet here I am today reading that he has someone who thinks of him as the best ever cruise director and obviously from the fact that he won the award here on the blog thingy, many others agreed. I also have many people who have told me here on the blog that they love Wee Jimmy and that he is the funniest CD ever. This shows that it really is a personal opinion and that being a cruise director subjects you to the world of the critic. I will make sure Wee Jimmy sees this comment as will Josh. Thanks so much for letting me know and I hope cruise number 10 ….…. your platinum cruise …is the best yet.

Best wishes


Julie Mendenhall Asked:

John PLEASE REPLY TIME SENSITIVE: Sailing 3/31/11 on the Carnival Destiny.

Hi John,

I have to ask a favour, my hubby, Randall and I will be married 30 years on 4.4.11. We are sailing a Back to Back on the Carnival Destiny (3.31.11 to 4.09.11). I would love it if you would send a little something to our Cabin, (number 7102). We were to sail with you in May of last year on the Carnival Fantasy. Instead my brother-in-law and sister, MR. and MRS CARNIVAL, got to sail with you and we had to cancel. Since we have not gotten to sail with you, I thought a message from you would be the next best thing! The 3/31 cruise is my Platinum cruise and the 4/4 cruise is my hubby’s platinum!

I do have a question as well. We are sailing the Back to Back as I said earlier. We know that we can take one bottle of wine or champagne per adult on a cruise. We want to take an extra bottle of Champagne to have on our anniversary but don’t know if this would be allowed as that would make 3 bottles but for back to back cruises. We are also ordering from the Bon Voyage dept an anniversary basket and a wine / cheese / Fruit basket so those will be in the cabin already. But wanted to bring an extra with us. Would you please ask the appropriate Beard to find out if we can take the extra bottle on embarkation? Thank You….and I will sail with you one day! (My sister, Mrs. Carnival, can’t have all the fun!)


John Says:
Hello Julie,

Congratulations on booking your back to back cruise and I will certainly send you a little something to help celebrate this special occasion. I checked with someone on your back to back wine question and yes actually you can bring a third bottle as you are on two cruises. I hope you both have a wonderful cruise and at least another 30 years of happiness together.

Best wishes


K and G Asked:
John, respond

I have been reading the blog now and then but have never written to you before until now. We are due to sail on the Freedom on Feb 27 and having read this on Cruise Critic me and my partner are now seriously thinking that this may be a very big mistake


Read this and you will see why we are both so scared of walking on the ship.

Tell me this is not true PLEASE

John Says:
Hello K and G

Well I didn’t need to actually read the link to know what the subject is as its obvious from the title. The answer is simply yes…….. Carnival welcomes and respects all of our guests regardless of colour, gender, lifestyle, race, religion or creed. You will find that during your cruise we will advertise Friends of Dorothy meetings in the Fun Times which is your daily activity and event program. Carnival is all about fun and I think we provide the best vacation around and I’m sure you’re going find this out for yourselves during your upcoming Freedom cruise. I hope you will write when you get home.

Best wishes


Bill KIllips Asked:
Hi John,

I only recently found your blog and love it. I took my first Carnival cruise with my family last April on the Valor. It was my first cruise in 18 years and I am hooked again. Crusing has changed over the years but my wife and I were very pleased. My boys (age 14 & 12) loved it and want to go again. The ship was immaculately clean and the crew was very friendly.

We are booked on the Miracle on 4/21/11 to Bermuda, room 8214. I would appreciate any help in arranging a table for 4, by a window if possible. We are looking for some quality family time.

Regarding some recent topics:

Keep the WCMC. It was the ONLY dessert my son ate in the MDR

We had Felipe as the CD. He was great. Don’t believe anyone who says otherwise.

Keep up the good work!!!!

Bill Killips

John Says:
Hello Bill Killips,

You will love Bermuda. I was only there a short time and apart from a nasty experience with some hot sauce I loved the place. I will certainly ask the maitre d to see if he can help you with your table request and please tell your son not to worry…….the chocolate melting cake is not going anywhere. Thanks for your kind words especially those about Felipe who I am positive will do a brilliant job here on the Carnival Splendor.  Have a great time and best wishes to all


Patrick Armstrong Asked:
Dear John, (Reply if you wish?)

Just typed you a beautifully long post going into detail about how elated I am that my works Short Sleeve wearing IT beards have finally granted me access to your blog from my desk. How much I am looking forward to our cruise in 11 weeks and generally waffling (a lot)! I hit ‘Submit Comment’ then get a message saying that I have missed off my mail address and is required, I arrow back a screen and my post is gone. Admittedly it hasn’t taken me quite as long as you to recover but I feel your pain.

Anyhow I was thinking the other day that I would post you a message asking you to obtain a copy of ‘Capers’ sorry ‘Fun Times’ for the Paradise for me, so imagine my sheer delight in reading your blog yesterday and seeing you already had to this covered without me even asking hahaha.

So it’s now just 10 weeks til I fly to LA from the UK to marry the love of my life and just 11 weeks til our honeymoon cruise on the Paradise. We are both so excited. I read that the CD will be Jeff Bronson, are there any profiles on CD’s anywhere? I am struggling to find them?

Hope you are having fun in the UK and the girls are well.

Your friend from Essex


John Says:
Hello Patrick,

Timing is absolutely everything and bugger me if on the day the beards send me your question what happens……..I post the Fun Times for the Carnival Paradise. Brilliant. I am glad that I am not the only one with continuing computer issues……..maybe it’s an Essex thing. Anyway, hope all is well there and that you can now enjoy the blog thingy. Put the kettle on for me and have a decent cuppa.

Best wishes


Candid Cruiser Asked:

John, Please Reply

Please tell me that the rumours of Carnival leaving Tampa are not true! I read this today and have not been able to think of anything else. We live in Tampa and have been on the Legend 11 times and don’t know what we would do if this happened. Please tell me it aint so



John Says: ,
Hello Candid Cruiser

I am sorry that it has been so long since you posted this and my reply. I am sure by now that you know that this rumor is not true. I hope this means that you have booked cruise number 12 on the Carnival Legend.

Best wishes


Sign of the Fish Asked:
reply John

So you don’t think that having religious services onboard your cruise ships is important but gambling, drinking and fornicating is? Another reason you should be kneeling at the Penitent Form asking for forgiveness.

John Says:
Hello Sign of the Fish,

I don’t ever remember ever saying that having religious services on the ship was not important. In fact I am known for a fact that I said that we must improve our religious programs during the holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Passover, etc. Thanks for listening. Oh and by the way …….. where’s the fornicating going on?…………..I wasn’t invited.

Best wishes


Karen(formerly Techmom) Asked:
John (Please Reply)

First-Jen is the best! I have been on 7 cruises and her and Jaime (Kirk is CD, she is ACD) on the Pride are the ones I would sail with again. I would rather have one that is visible and cares than the last cruise where he was invisible and we heard no announcements.

Second-I was recently watching a show on The Food Network and they mentioned a cruise and to go to their travel site. One of the chefs along with others are going to be on another cruise lines transatlantic cruise and I thought how awesome would that be. They are offering cooking classes, etc on the sea days. You were asking what to do on Carnival Magic and it may be too late but it can be an option for the Carnival Breeze. Myself, a book, drink and sun is all I need but I think if I did a transatlantic cruise I would like some other options and cooking classes or picking the right pans to use etc would be great. My husband would like anything that has to do with videoing and editing etc.

Thanks for listening and feel better!


John Says:
Hello Karen(formerly Techmom)

Yep, Jen Baxter has many fans and as I was saying at the start of today’s Q and A, everyone has their own favourites when it comes to cruise directors and with Jen, Kirk and Jaime you have picked three that many would agree with you about. The ship that was hosting the cooking channel was I think the Holland America ship Eurodam that was using its Culinary Arts Theatre for this event. I think it’s a great idea and yes indeed, on a longer cruise like a trans-Atlantic this would be invaluable. I am going to have to start thinking about things like this for your Carnival Magic’s voyage back to America. I hope you and all your family are well and hope to see you soon.

Best wishes


LadyJag (Laura W) Asked:
Dear John, (Please Reply)

Happy new year to you and congratulations on doing such a brilliant job in New York during the New Year’s Eve celebration! I’m sure it was an experience you will always remember proudly.

I have two rather silly questions concerning my upcoming cruise on the Carnival Legend. First, does the CD, Ralph Valente, still go by “Wee Jimmy,” or is he trying to move away from that nickname?

My second question is, does Ralph “Wee Jimmy” Valente broadcast a morning show on the Carnival Legend? I ask because we are sailing Easter day, and my almost 5-year-old, Alyssa, has already asked me countless times if I would submit her favorite Easter bunny jokes when we get onboard, but I don’t want to tell her “yes” if there is no morning show.

At first, I thought every Carnival ship had a morning show, but was surprised to discover on our Carnival Inspiration cruise last April that this is not always the case. I went to the purser’s…I mean, Guest Services desk the day we set sail and confused the heck out of the poor GSA by handing over a note for our CD’s [non-existent] morning show. (Ooops!)

Anyway, thanks again for a great blog and for your Facebook updates.

All the best,


John Says:
Hello LadyJag (Laura W)

Wow, that’s two mentions for Wee Jimmy today. Yes, Ralph still does go by this name. I think there was a period of time where he tried to re-invent himself and step away from his alter ego but he soon discovered that Wee Jimmy is as much a part of him as Ralph is. Quite honestly all the CD’s are supposed to do a morning show and I was surprised to read about what happened on the Carnival Inspiration. Anyway, you will really like Wee Jimmy and he is back to his best. I will ask him to make sure he reads a birthday wish out and sends Alyssa a birthday something.

Have a great cruise and best wishes to all


That’s all for today. We have 9,120,000 views on the blog so far and thank you all for joining me here and on Facebook.

Let’s have a look at the gorgeous new Serenity adults-only retreat on Carnival Legend.

Well I am sure you have read by now what Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill told the press last Saturday. In case you missed it here are the major points.

  • Repairs took longer than we would have hoped which to some extent was influenced by the availability of parts. Spare diesel generators and alternators for cruise ships are not generally sitting around on a shelf somewhere. Some parts had to be manufactured and much of what was replaced on board was flown in from Europe where our ships are constructed via chartered cargo jets.
  • We’ve now successfully replaced one diesel generator that weighs 109 tons and two alternators weighing 53 tons each, as well as installed new switchboard components and roughly 110 miles of electrical cabling. We also completed extensive cleaning of the affected areas.
  • All systems have been inspected by Lloyd’s Registry of Shipping, which is the world’s foremost independent marine classification society. Lloyd’s provides certification that ships meet all safety requirements.
  • Additionally, the US Coast Guard has inspected the vessel and verified the safety certification by Lloyd’s.
  • The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing and is being led by the U.S. Coast Guard with assistance from the National Transportation Safety Board, Carnival and the ship’s flag state.
  • We know that the fire was caused by a catastrophic failure in diesel generator number five. You don’t expect diesel generators to have catastrophic failures, especially one that is two years old.  We have never had this occur in our 40-year history.
  • The investigation to determine the exact cause of the failure of the diesel generator is still ongoing. That generator has been removed and is being examined by a team of forensic fire experts. It is our understanding that the U.S. Coast Guard will complete an official report at the investigation’s conclusion.
  • Nothing is more important than continuously striving to ensure the safest and most comfortable environment possible for our guests and crew.
  • To that end, we have formed a fire safety task force comprised of four distinct sub-teams and 18 core team members. The objective of the task force is to develop and implement action plans to enhance our fire prevention, detection, suppression and response capabilities across our fleet.

I know some of you have been pressing me about releasing this information on the blog thingy. One chap (hello Steve) has been quite displeased about this and accused me of hiding the truth. We haven’t hidden from anything but I could not talk about it here until permission was given. I hope you understand.

The press conference went well and Gerry handled it brilliantly. He is unrecognizable from the “accountant” who joined us a few years ago and didn’t seem to enjoy speaking into a microphone and had developed his own style on the microphone now which is so much more relaxed than when I first saw him…..…..and he is funny….I don’t think he realises that he is…..….but Gerry………you are and you handled a very difficult press conference with skill and charm.

I was also asked some questions and together, we got through it and hopefully now, that is that and we can move on, the Carnival Splendor can cruise on and we can all talk about something else………like the new activities and fun onboard…….or the Miami Heat………….or your Carnival Magic……………or Carnival in Australia…………..or my arse.

Anyway, the evening was a success for sure and it was absolutely the right choice for me to be there and although there were plenty of reasons why the most important reason…..were the crew. It turns out that there were nearly 600 crew who were here during the fire and I think I must have probably spoken to all of them. The camaraderie, the feeling of accomplishment, the being part of what happened is something that these brilliant men and women will always have and the fact that so many thanked me……was overwhelming………..especially considering all of their incredible hard work.

Yep………it was definitely the right decision to have been there and I wish the Carnival Splendor nothing but fair winds and calm seas …….forever.
So how’s it going over there so far? Let’s find out through the eyes of one of the entertainment staff there now. He was with me during the fire. He had in fact only been onboard the ship, his first; for 3 weeks and he showed that this was a job he was truly meant to have. Ryan is back on the Carnival Splendor once again to tell us about how the first cruise is going.

Ryan….over to you

Hi John

So here we are! Back on the Amazing Carnival Splendor…sailing towards Puerto Vallarta and the ship seems to be finding its heart again.  Spending 7 days on the Splendor with no guests makes it wildly apparent where the real life of this cruise ship lies…in its passengers.  We have a very full ship with 3,550 guests on board, and the energy here is palpable. As I walk along promenade greeting our newly arrived guests I feel from them the built up excitement of a long-awaited vacation, the joy of turning off “real life” for a week, and the sheer pleasure that IS a cruise vacation.  Of course, after the incident in November, I know a lot of people had questions, concerns, and notions of what sailing on the Splendor could be like, but all their worries have been left behind in Long Beach and now we have a ship full of carefree vacationers finding the fun and not looking for the holes…they’re also eating a lot of free ice cream and pizza! From the game show in the Spectacular Theater to Superstar Live Karaoke in the El Morocco, everyone is officially ON VACATION!!  Tomorrow is our first Fun Day at Sea and already I hear people planning this and that, setting up lounge chair meetings on Lido, deciding how many shore excursions they can fit in to one day, and scouring the Fun Times (that’s Capers for you, John) for the next trivia challenge so that they can finally win the coveted Golden Ship on a Stick.

This ship has overcome a lot in the past few months, and if there was ever a time for it to shine, it’s now. Should the smiles on the faces of our crew seem a little bit more like those of proud parents, it’s because we know we have a wonderful thing here and we are all very pleased to be sharing this triumphant return with our incredible guests. This is just the beginning…not only of this 7-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera, but also of a new chapter in the life of the Splendor…with all eyes on us we will continue to go above and beyond the expectations of our passengers and make this ship the star of the Carnival fleet. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week will bring! Ciao for now. I’ll bring you more news tomorrow!

Ryan McQuarrie
Carnival Splendor
Entertainment Host

Thanks Ryan, beautifully written and I know your Mum is a blog reader and like me she is very proud of you. We look forward to checking back in with you soon.

Here are the Fun Times for the Carnival Paradise. (Click this link to download them.)

I want to go back to the subject of dress codes for a while. You see, I was talking to a very important travel agent who sends Carnival loads of business and who I have been friends with for some time. He has around 150 employees working for him and we were chatting about dress codes when he told me that in his offices the dress code is casual and that he had read that times have changed even in New York and that only 1 in 10 office workers wears a suit to work.

I am truly happy about this. Who says that it is smart to wear a thin strip of material around your neck……….unless you are a country and western singer, I have to wear a tie on elegant cruise elegant chic formal elegant night onboard and that means that once a week it needs to be dry cleaned because I have accidentally lowered it into the Minestrone soup.

So here I go again on my high horse about dress code even though I know that like Paris Hilton in a nunnery……………I am in the minority.

It’s just that dress code has changed and over the years, formal elegant clothing has changed and the way things are going the suit will soon be a thing of the past. Look, at Carnival men are not required to wear a suit and on Friday’s it’s dress down day which means many come naked.

So if you have a suit I am not sure in a few years time when you are ever going to wear it. I only wear one on stage because it is illegal for fat people to wear a polo shirt that’s tucked in. So is it time to say goodbye to the suit? Think about it…..…we don’t put a dress code in the Fun Times that says that the pants must be made from the same fabric as the jacket. Look at the tuxedo …….compared to 10 years ago sporting a tuxedo on elegant night onboard is as rare as spotting a Frenchman in a bath.

Dress codes seem to be ignored these days. Take Saturday night. Carnival invited 1,200 travel agents to a special party and asked them to dress elegantly………..50% did and 50% said bugger that and wore nice jeans, slacks and casual but smart clothing.

I know that many will not agree and please don’t worry…..….we are not changing our current dress codes. Of course, I also know that some people like getting dressed up. And some people enjoy the feel of working in a good suit. I have no problem with this. If you want to go to work dressed up in something exquisite from Neiman Marcus, go right ahead. And if you want to dress up for dinner onboard then I think you should keep doing so. The question I am often asked is why we don’t always enforce the dress codes onboard? Well, the maitre d really tries but not only are there multiple entrances, sometimes on two levels, it is never easy to tell someone that wearing jeans and a polo shirt means they can’t have any lobster.

By the way, the dress code for this blog is as it always has been……….underpants only.


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.