Questions Of The Day

March 28, 2011 -

John Heald

I didn’t want the day to go without me answering some questions as normal so…….here they are.

Courtney Ann Asked:
Dear John (please reply at your convenience)

We sailed on the Carnival Fascination back in December and it was the best ship I have ever been on. Not only was it my favorite ship, but the Jacksonville port was beyond impressive. The staff there is incredible. Also, the crew on the ship = absolutely marvelous. Every single crew member we encountered was polite and friendly. I can not say enough good things about them. Our server, Yves, was the sweetest woman I met on board. I had tears in my eyes on our last night in the MDR because I was so sad that I would not see her again (though she ended up coming to find us on Lido on the morning of debarkation to say goodbye again). With that said – there was no hesitation for us to book another sailing on the Carnival Fascination for May 14th. We are taking our cousin with us this time to celebrate her 20th birthday. We can’t WAIT to be back on board! Can I please ask you a favor? Is there any way we could have Yves as our server for this sailing? We would absolutely love to see her again. If you have time, we would greatly appreciate your help. Thank you so much for all you do, John. I hope you are having a great week and I hope to be able to cruise with you one day soon!

John Says:
Hello Courtney Ann,

Thank you so very much for this brilliant review and yes of course I can ask the maitre d to assist you and if the wonderful Yves is still on board I will ask him to seat you at her table. It is so great to read that our crew made a difference and that you enjoyed the Carnival Fascination so much. Thanks again for taking the time to write and I hope you next cruise is just as fun……..or even more so. Thanks for the kind words and I hope to see you soon as well.

Best wishes,

John

George Richards Asked:
John, please reply,

We got back on 14 Jan 2011 from an 8 day cruise on the Miracle. As always, the cruise begins with Jacque Spier – Carnival’s best Vacation Planner! We used the Early Saver program, saved money and Jacque booked us a wonderful balcony cabin! With Jacque, everything is as she says but no one is more knowledgeable or better at customer service than she! To date, we’ve booked 20+ cruises through her.

Overall the cruise was good. The ship is in good shape and well maintained.

Embarkation was a piece of cake! Someone asked this a while ago; getting on the ship, we tipped the porter $5 for the getting the 3 bags out of the car. From baggage drop off, parking, in processing etc and onto the Lido deck, no more than 20 minutes! Room was neat, clean, & orderly, complete with safe and fridge. Always had lots of hot water and great water pressure.

– luggage arrived by 3pm
– Nick & Nora’s, the Steak house, was fabulous!
– Dinner in the MDR – fantastic
– Lunch in the MDR – very good
– Breakfast in the MDR – ranged from very good to not so good. It appeared that during breakfast, they were understaffed
– Lido food was always very good. Sometimes hard to find a table especially during peak hours. Please note coffee & ice tea were very good!
– Production Shows – very good
– Activities during the day were enough to keep one busy. Several days the high winds forced the closure of the upper outside decks. The pools weren’t crowded, and the adult serenity area was well used.
– The ports of call were as advertised, as were the excursions. However, we didn’t book early and found several key excursions were sold out.
– Based on previous cruises, the CD & his staff were somewhere between OK and Good. The only one who impressed us was Sparkle, she was very good at whatever she did and I think she’ll make an excellent CD!
– The Fun Times could have been a bit more informative, especially in regards to the free in cabin movies. Not once were their titles listed!
– Getting off the ship was easier than getting on. We put our luggage out the night before, met the Carnival rep in the main lounge and were off the ship in record breaking time. In the baggage holding area, we engaged a porter. He took our luggage from the holding area, through customs, and up to the 3 rd level of the parking garage; we tipped him $15. We were off the ship and in the car by 9am.

Side note: I think the average age of the cruisers was about 120! Several of them asked me for my Camp Carnival Hall Pass – I’m 60+! Just kidding, they were great ship mates, fun to talk to and be with. These folks were avid cruises, some of them with 50+ cruses; one gentleman said he was on this 98th! A great number of these senior cruisers were using walkers/scooters, and were with several different cruise groups. The staff did an excellent job taking care of them. In fact, they had their own debarkation, and were off the ship before anyone else. The Staff and Crew of the Miracle have its stuff together!

Just an idea or two, other than to unlock/loosen up the slot machines, would be to open the MDR during Embarkation. This would take a lot of pressure of staff and cruisers – tables on Lido are hard to find on Embarkation day. Additionally, it would add to the MDR breakfast, if “chicken fingers/patties, beef patties, and pork chops could be added to the menu.

Overall, on a scale of 1 thru 5, I’d rate the Miracle, her staff & crew a 4+.

John Says:
Hello George Richards,

Thank you for this excellent review. You know, the new review card system we have has many good features but few replies go into detail like this does and so you can imagine how important these reviews are that are posted here on the blog thingy. There are obvious areas in which we need to improve, breakfast obviously being one area and that is why when I send these reviews to the hotel directors of the ships they always thank me for doing so because this is how we continue to learn and improve. So I will send this to the ship to digest and overall I know that they will be thrilled with your rating of 4 plus. Thanks so much for taking the time to write and I if there is anything else I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes

John

Scott T Asked:
Reply Needed,

I think this last cruise will be my last and you need to understand WHY! Check in process was long and unorganized. Holland America was much more organized. Three inside rooms are very small. Our Jr. Suite room was okay, with the balcony. Our tub and toilet were dirty when we arrived. The bathroom light was flickering on and off. I had to call maintenance. The internet (using my laptop) never did work for me, even though I stood in a long line at Guest Services 4 times to try to figure out why. No one could help me. Guest service was understaffed. The guest services person took my reservation for My Time dining, and then never reported to the dining room. They did not have us on the list. The safety drill was needful, of course, but the standing and waiting was far too long. I got in some real pain standing and waiting so long. They were waiting on people who never showed up. The internet is antiquated, slow, and expensive. It only worked once using the ship computer. It never worked using my laptop. And there is no internet availability in the rooms. You have to go to a hotspot. That’s a bit inconvenient after you’ve gotten into your pjs. My 22 year old daughter was treated rudely by two of the staff.

All this junk on board is way over priced. Water? Wine? I buy the same cheap wine at the grocery store for 1/3 the cost. The tender ticket saga for the boat ride over to Grand Cayman was a NIGHTMARE. I went early (45 minutes early) to get in line at Cleopatra’s Nook. There were already many people there, sitting around in chairs calling that the “line.” As I moved toward the back of the room to position myself in what was a poorly defined line, people started filling up all the chairs much further up than the “end of the chair line.” The woman behind me was really mad. She was right to be mad. These people were in effect, cutting the line by plopping down in chairs close to the front of the chair line…such as it was. She finally just went up there and told the all those people sitting around in the chair line waiting on the woman to arrive with the tickets that they needed to stand up, and make a real line, because nobody really knew where it started and ended. They did stand up and form a line.

The lady came and handed out the tender tickets. My family got in group one, but that didn’t matter when it came time. People with No. 2 group tickets were pushing and shoving. My oldest daughter had a baby in a stroller. She had a group 1 ticket, but when the disorganized crew opened the tape to let another group through, the No. 2 group ticket holders behind my daughter with the stroller almost trampled her and the baby. When she got through, she was crying really hard. It was just a horrible situation and very traumatic. Of course, they do call for all the people in motorized chairs to come first, but there also should be a call for young parents with small children or at least babies. NEVER EVER AGAIN.

As my husband said today, as we waited in yet another long line to re-board in Jamaica, “There are too many long lines to stand in.” We have both decided that we don’t care to cruise again for a very long time, if ever. I probably spent at least 1/2 day standing in lines. Too many wasted hours.

As far as having a wonderful vacation, on a scale of 1 to 10, this is probably about a 3-4 at best. The food is pretty good, the service except occasionally is good, and the entertainment is good. Everything else pretty much “stinks.” Unless your company can come up with a way to insure me and my family that next time things will be better then you will never see the Terry family again.

John Says:
Hello Scott T,

I read your post, twice, three times in fact and I have no idea what ship you were on. I know we have a lounge called Cleopatra’s Piano Bar on the Carnival Fantasy but then you mentioned Jamaica and Grand Cayman and the Carnival Fantasy doesn’t sail there. I am very sorry that you had such a bad time but please can you re post with details of what ship and what date you sailed so I can address this properly.

Best wishes,

John

Jeff Asked:
Hi John,

We just finished our latest Carnival cruise on the Carnival Destiny. Now, before I write this, I want to point out that we love Carnival, we only cruise Carnival, and have been with you and your blog since I sailed with you in March 2007 on the Freedom (so, since day 1). First, the food was exquisite, as always, and it was a fun time. However, for the first time ever, I actually have to complain, and I hate doing it, as it’s not my thing. Here are the issues. First, we did the Chef’s Table. It was a nice experience, but the problem is, if you don’t drink wine, it’s not at all worth it. The food was great, and the wine was flowing freely, which is a good thing. However, I can’t stand wine. I asked if could have a replacement, such as a beer or a martini or something, and they said yes- if I pay for it. So I paid for my drink, in addition to the large fee for the event. It didn’t seem all that fair, but what can you do – I’m not one to complain. Then the waiter spilled the hot bisque all over my shirt sleeve, my arm, and my pants (as well as the chair and the carpet – he managed to spill a lot.) He apologized profusely, of course. That’s when they talked and decided to offer me one whole drink on the house. I was covered in bisque. Maybe they could have washed my clothes. But like you, I try not to complain, so I let it go. But I won’t be doing The Chef’s Table again, nor can I recommend it, especially if you don’t drink wine.

The other issue was with the Gift Shop/Guest Services. We ordered 8 bottles of alcohol (as usual) from the Gift Shop, as the prices really are excellent. Well, on the last night, as of 11PM, they hadn’t shown up. We went to Guest Services, and they assured us they were just behind in deliveries and they would be there shortly. Fast-forward to 2AM. We’re still up waiting, and we have an early (11AM) flight. We called Guest Services to ask them where the alcohol was, and they had no idea, but it would bet there by the morning. We argued with them telling them that we had to be in the first group off the ship, and that we couldn’t chance it, and to just give us the refund. They said they couldn’t refund it because someone from the Gift Shop had to do that, but they were all asleep as it was 2am so it would have to wait until the morning. They wouldn’t wake them up. We argued with them for some time to no resolution. We finally gave up and went to sleep. We called in the morning as we were debarking and were told that the money would be refunded. We would rather have had the alcohol, but after all that, at least we finally had a resolution. I have no idea what happened, but it was frustrating. I’ve never had these problems on any other Carnival cruise. (For the record, we already have a Carnival Spirit Alaskan cruise booked for May.) I love Carnival, but the overall experience on the Destiny left something to be desired. It was my least favorite ship and cruise. But I know the Spirit will rock!
Thanks for listening, and I still want to smoke a cigar and share stories with you one day.

Your friend,

Jeff

John Says:
Hello Jeff,

A lot of people think that I refuse to post the more negative reviews and that we sweep them under the carpet. This of course is bollocks and I am using your review as a prime example of this. Let’s chat about the Chef’s Table. I think most agree that the price of $75 is worth every single penny and yet I can understand that if you don’t drink wine then maybe you would feel a little hard done by. So, while I think The Chef’s Table has a unbeatable price point I can absolutely agree that if a guest would not want wine and would prefer a beer or two…….not a beer of ten ……….but a beer or two then we should and we must have the ability to give this to the guest.

Now I know what happened here and it’s not the ship’s fault. You see, a series of guidelines are sent by the beards at Carnival and those guidelines are strictly adhered to and this is the way that it has to be I guess. But it does get me a little annoyed sometimes that this is the case. There should be the flexibility for the chef to say “Of course you can have a beer if you prefer”…… but there isn’t. Instead, here I am now having to write an email to the beards suggesting that if asked we allow beer to be served instead of wine. And I know for sure they will say yes. It just shouldn’t have needed you to write to me about it for which I thank you for doing so and apologise for the fact that you had to.

As for the gift shop, it’s hard for me to comment but I can say that all liquor collections are now made the morning of debarkation which considering what happened to you is probably a good thing.

I thank you for your loyalty to Carnival and please, if there is anything you need before you cruise in May, let me know wont you. I will pass your observations up to the beards.

Best wishes

John

Harley Cruisers Asked:
Reply Please John,

I had asked you for a table for three for myself and my wife and daughter on the Miracle. They did get us a table for three BUT it was at the back of the dining room and we couldn’t see the entertainment and dances. WE WERE NOT HAPPY! The waiter did not speak English and seemed to prefer spending time at the table next us and not with us. The dining experience left much to be desired. We did get the champagne and trophy you sent my wife. We are going on the Liberty in August and can only hope you will do better for us next time.

John Says:
Hello Harley Cruisers,

I am sorry that your table was not to your liking. The maitre d’s and I do our best to accommodate everyone’s requests and I do hope you had a fun cruise despite your concerns over your table. Please let me know what I can do for you before you sail in August on the beautiful Carnival Liberty.

Best wishes,

John

Jeri G Asked:
[please reply]
Hi John,

I’m writing today in response to a question you asked on Facebook: about Carnival’s photo department. We just sailed with Carnival on the Inspiration out of Tampa January 15-20 and the Embarkation photo was miserable. I always buy the Embarkation photo and the port photos to help document the cruise and this trip I have only one of the three – the port photo at Grand Cayman. There was no one taking photos at Cozumel as we got off the ship a couple of hours after porting and the photo that was taken as we boarded that evening was terrible. Both times the photographer did not wait for us to get set and make sure that both of us had our eyes open in the photo. With digital photography there really is no reason for a guest to miss out on a photo because the eyes were closed. It would take one quick glance at the screen and a quick second click to make it right. Now for the embarkation photo: where to begin! We were actually still trying to get set when the guy snapped the photo. Eyes were closed, we were looking down and not at the camera, and we were moving. INEXCUSABLE! When I saw the photo, I took it to the staff person and showed it to him and asked for a reasonable explanation of how it could be possible to take such a poor photo in this age of digital photography. He apologized, said he would never have let the guests move on without taking a second, and told us that the other guy should not have either. Nice of him to say, but that still did not give me an embarkation photo with the date and ship name on it. I don’t even mind the price Carnival charges for the photos – as long as they are QUALITY! It’s disappointing to see photos with glare on eyeglasses and shadows on the faces. I believe that for the price, we shouldn’t have to settle for glare and shadows. I always budget for shipboard photos and look forward to taking lots of them and buying plenty. So I left the ship disappointed this time

John Says:
Hello Jeri G,

This is such an important review and one that along with an apology from me is the promise that we will get better here. We will be changing the way we take and sell photos onboard and thus this kind of comment is extremely valuable. I promise you we will get better and that this comment will reach the right people immediately. Thanks again for telling me.

Best wishes,

John

Carla H Asked:
John, respond I need a favor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would like have a gift sent to my daughter Chantelle, she will be sailing on Dream May 14, she just graduated from U of Central Florida, early education major, and this cruise is her celebration. I would like you to get the cruise director to congratulate her on stage and present her with a gift. Maybe you can give her a free massage or a free swim with dolphins tour. She has achieved so much and I want all the passengers to see this. Please email me to let me know this is arranged.

She is cabin 1437.

John Says:
Hello Carla H,

I would be happy to ask the cruise director read this note from you out during is morning show and although I cannot give her a free massage or a free sexcursion, I can send her a little something to congratulate her on all she has achieved. I am sure you must be very proud of her.

Best wishes to you both.

John

ER NURSE SUSAN Asked:
John, Reply requested.

I just read through your response to a smoking concern and just don’t know what to say.

Here is part of your response:

We really have limited smoking here and I do not foresee a policy change in this area anytime soon either at Carnival or any other of the lines.

This statement sends a message to me – cruise elsewhere. Smoking in the cabins, on the balconies, in the piano bars, in the disco, in the sports bar, in the casino. Do you really consider that limited smoking? As far as other lines’ policies all the other lines only allows smoking outside in the open air. It really is not fair that non-smoking guests who do not want to subject themselves to nasty and scientifically proven hazardous second hand smoke should not be able to enjoy all of the venues on the ship, including the very quite often unique experience of the piano bars. I want smoke free Piano Bars and so does everyone of the piano bar players all of which have told me so. I will find another line with a smoking policy that does not allow those who wish to kill themselves to have the chance to kill innocents like me as well.

John Says:
Hello ER Nurse Susan,

I will start the reply to your question by once again stating that I realize that smoking is a very sensitive subject and one that divides opinion equally. The piano bar is an ongoing subject and one thing I can tell you is that on the Carnival Freedom this past February we did allow smoking in the piano bar but not around the piano itself. This policy was approved by Chris the piano bar entertainer. I do agree that we have to respect their wishes and this be part of our decisions to make the piano bar smoking or non smoking. Thanks so much for taking the time to write and I encourage you to continue to express your thoughts here on the blog thingy which is read by all of Carnival’s top beards. Most of all I truly hope we see you again soon on one of our fun for al ships.

Best wishes,

John

12watch Asked:
John, reply.

Just got back from the Paradise. The lobsters served on this ship were no bigger than 2 inches. I am on the Splendor in May and hope the lobsters will be bigger
and that Carnival has not become as I fear the bottom feeder cruise line.

John Says:
Hello 12watch,

May I mention that the lobster is also accompanied by some superb shrimp and that if you ask your waiter he or she will bring you more lobster? I truly hope you had a wonderful cruise and have a wonderful time once again on the Carnival Splendor.

Best wishes,

John

Doug S, Cedar Mills Ohio Asked:
Please reply,

I am writing to applauded you efforts to honor the military members on the recent cruise on the Valor. As a prior military man who served in Vietnam and the 1st Gulf War in 1991 I was proud to see that there was a veterans meeting arranged on the boat. People need to remember that our military is 100% volunteer, it is not there decision where they go that decision is made by the President of the United States any bad feeling about the Vietnam, Iraqi and Afghan wars should be made towards our president, not the people who volunteer to defend our great nation. I say this because during the meeting a group of 4 other guests walked into the room where 30 or so of us were meeting and started to boo us and call us “baby killers.” We were appalled and luckily the assistant bar manager Savio who was there told them to leave and called security. I just wanted to say thanks to him and to post what had happened.

John Says:
Hello Doug S, Cedar Mills Ohio,

There is little I can say mate. Quite honestly this is one of the most awful things I have read on this blog in the 4 years I have been writing it. All I can say is thank you for your service and that Carnival is proud to support and acknowledge the fact that without people like you, there would be no freedom for us and the utter bastards who interrupted your gathering…….to cruise and to our lives as we do today Best wishes to you and to all who have and are serving their countries.

John

Just one more thing before I go. I received this comment this morning and decided to bring it to the head of the line.

Deborah H Asked:
John URGENT RPLY PLEASE

There is a conversation that has become quite spiteful on Cruise Critic. Here is the link so you can see what I mean.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1385405&highlight=french+onion+soup

I know that I often post some of your comments on cruise critic because not many people there read it and you sometimes have things on your blog that I feel everyone should know. My question then is do you want me to stop this as if I am breaking some law or upsetting you then I will stop. I don’t want to be publically roasted like the OP was here.

Thanks

John Says:
Hello Deborah H,

I have to say that the post made me laugh out loud and I know it shouldn’t but……well honestly ………a bollocking over French Onion Soup………..how silly! The answer is simply that I have absolutely no problem in anyone posting any of my musings. If it helps people, then that’s OK with me. By the way…………..I have forgotten who or what OP is?

Best wishes,

John

That’s all for today. I will be back tomorrow with a wonderful story from the Carnival Pride, Radu’s photos of Dubrovnik and some silly stuff from me as usual.

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

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

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