Magic Frogs

April 5, 2011 -

John Heald

I am writing this part of the blog while sitting in the departures lounge of Heathrow Airport’s terminal 1 and I have to ask you this question. “Why the sodding hell do they have luggage shops at airports? Have you ever seen a man wandering round with an armful of underpants saying: “Yippee ………a suitcase!” There cannot be finer example of human madness than an airport……. apart from Charlie Sheen……….obviously.

My flight is delayed. It’s a Lufthansa flight and I had expected it to operate with German efficiency but alas apparently Das Plane is kaput and we are waiting for a different one. I was going to make a comment about the planes working OK in 1942 when they bombed the crap out of my grandfather’s house but forgive and forget, of course, so I won’t say anything.

Now, for those of you who are new to the blog (we are getting more and more each day) you may not know that I hate flying with an unbridled passion. Honestly, I would rather watch back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back performances of Charlie Sheen’s new play while someone from France poked my thingy with a cattle prod………then have to fly. It’s not just the flying but the whole experience that makes me sick to my stomach.

Since 9/11, the shoe bomber, the underpants bomber and others makes getting through an airport so slow it’s to the point where technically you are classified as a missing person.

This is because before the attacks I guess we treated planes like buses and trains. I have been flying trans-Atlantic for 24 years now and I remember when security was so slack the airlines didn’t even have to match luggage to passengers. I’m surprised Bin Laden’s bastards had to resort to box cutters. I’d have thought they could have boarded with a few AKs and a Samsonite full of Semtex.

Now, though, the pendulum has swung completely the other way. Now they won’t let you on a plane until they’ve waved that magic wand over your laptop, looked at you naked, patted you down, felt under your bollocks to make sure there is no weapons of mass destruction under there and half a dozen spaniels have had a good rummage round your underpants. My Lufthansa e- ticket arrived with a note telling me that I had to check in 2 hours before the flight. Why?

I like to check in last, on the basis that the final bags to be loaded into the hold will be the first off at the other end, and I like to be greeted by a stewardess on the plane who tuts a lot and looks at her watch…………….yes I know this is childish but it makes me happy.

I’ve always suspected that the two-hour rule is nothing more than airport senior beards using the world we live in as a means of getting us into their giant shopping malls for an extra hour so we can spend more time buying over priced neck pillows and $10 sandwiches.

But my moaning is kept to what goes on in my head and what I write in this blog. I hate it though. I hate sitting in a metal tube breathing in other people’s bottom smells. I hate the toilets and I hate the stupid questions about if I packed the suitcase myself and have to fight not to reply: “No, Ketut did it for me.”
Of course I hate security but I understand that no one wants to remove their belts and stand, legs apart, to endure light petting with an electronic wand. But it’s preferable to being sucked out of a 737 at 30,000 feet because a suicide bomber has made a man-shaped hole in the fuselage. That would be a bad day indeed, especially if the plane were to explode, you survive the actual explosion but then find yourself falling to your death……….over Paris. Now that would as my American friends say………….really suck. But flying is now part of my life as it seems is saying goodbye to the girls, a subject I just can’t bring myself to talk about.

Anyway, I will move on now to some belated questions that has been waiting for me to answer since 1975…………so off we go.

Elaine Onstad Asked:
Hi John (Please Reply),

I started reading your blog in May, shortly after returning from a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Valor. It has provided lots of laughs and a good dose of escapism, as I was also sidelined from most normal and fun activities in May due to a car accident. Don’t know if the laughs are due to your British wit or large doses of (legal) drugs; either way I seem to spend a lot of time chuckling as I read your blog. Somehow (likely due to the drugs) I booked a cruise on the Dream during Spring Break, and am bringing with me 5 teenagers, a young adult, my husband, and my 78 year old mother (did I mention I am on drugs?).

I would like to ask a favor of you, because just vacationing with this wonderful group isn’t enough. I’d like to be able to look each of them in the eyes each evening as we partake in the finest of free Carnival cuisine and find out how they spent their day, and what their plans are for the evening. I can’t move too quickly these days, and probably couldn’t keep up with the teens even before the accident, so I’ll have to live vicariously through them and spend my days lounging on deck.

Could you please ascertain if we could be seated together at one table? We are sailing on the Carnival Dream, departing 4/16, and are in cabins 6346, 6348, 6350, 6340 and 6352. Thanks for any help you can provide, and keep up the good laughs!

BTW, when will the schedule for fall 2012 be out?

Regards,

Elaine Onstad

John Says:
Hello Elaine Onstad,

I am glad you found the blog and of course I would be happy to help you with your table arrangements so I will be sending your information to the maitre d and I know he will do all he can to accommodate you all. I hope you have the best of times.

Best wishes,

John

D Green Asked:
John – REPLY

I agree with Karen who in today’s blog expressed her anger at having to sit with other passengers at dinner. Carnival does not have enough tables for 2 and even when you as senior director cannot guarantee one then it shows how much you are lacking. My DW and I dislike the company of others and yet we were forced to do so on our cruise on the Fascination last year. More tables for 2 would guarantee more business for Carnival. I don’t expect you to listen though as Carnival has never listened to what its customers want.

John Says:
Hello D Green,

Well I think that the fact that I have a blog and a FB dedicated to listening to what our guests want would contradict your statement that we never listen to our guests. However, while I am sure that many will not agree that we should have more tables for 2 and that they truly enjoy the experience of meeting other guests at dinner and the fact that often they become good friends, some may agree with you. That’s why I will listen to you and I will make sure the beards here this suggestion. More on this on FB I think. Best wishes and I hope you did have fun on the Carnival Fascination.

John

Cecelia Rhodes Asked:
Hi John, PLEASE REPLY!

Will the Splendor ever do the Mexican Riviera cruise departing from San Francisco? We were schedule to sail on the Splendor on 12/19/10, we were actually suppose to get married on, but with the fire we had to change our plans to the Spirit. It was a beautiful wedding and the crew on board couldn’t have been more wonderful. The waiters that served at our wedding reception remembered our names and recognized us every time we passed them in the dining room or on the Lido deck and made us feel very special. We were contestants on the “Marriage Show” and after that everyone on the ship recognized us as I swear it was airing 24/7 on the ship’s television!

We bought a future cruise credit so that one day we can cruise on the Splendor, maybe re-new our vows! We live in the San Francisco Bay Area and would love not to have to travel to Southern California to sail. Please let me know if the Splendor will ever sail out of San Francisco – or if any of the Carnival cruise ships will.

Thank you!

The new Mrs. Cecelia Rhodes

p.s. One of the highlights of the trip (besides getting married) – we were award the highly sought after “ship on a stick” at the Marriage game. It sits proudly on the bookshelf and every time I pass it I think back to my wedding and to the great time we had on the Spirit.

John Says:
Hello Cecelia Rhodes,

Those are great memories and it’s so funny how so many people keep their solid gold trophies proudly on display, I find this absolutely brilliant. There are though no plans to cruise out of San Francisco although Carnival remains committed to the West Coast. I hope you will have new memories soon on another Carnival cruise and you win another trophy so you have a brilliant pair of book ends. Best wishes to you both.

John

Grantham Asked:
John – Please reply

We just returned from our 21st Carnival cruise this time on the Sensation and it was one of the best yet. The staff was very friendly and they went out of their way to help. I saw the staff cleaning the ship constantly; they were always sweeping the floors and cleaning up food in the buffet line. The 80’s show was fantastic .The only comment I have is that the show Curves was awful and the number with the male dancers singing a song called Pretty was nothing short of offensive. We though had a great time and can’t wait to see you on the Magic Trans Atlantic voyage. Please can you send a special thanks to our waiter Joseph who was excellent and tell him his Michael Jackson dance was the highlight of the cruise. Thanks John and keep up the great work you are doing

John Says:
Hello Grantham,

That’s interesting because just a few days ago I had a similar comment on FB about that very number in the show. I am so sorry if you found it offensive and I will pass this along to our directors of entertainment. I am glad you had so much fun and thank you for your loyalty to Carnival and I will see you on your Carnival Magic and will certainly pass on your regards and thanks to Michael……….I mean Joseph.

Best wishes,

John

Harry H Asked:
Reply Please

Long time Carnival cruiser who has to say that I think your blog is just a tool for you to stoke your own ego and to have the sad readers who obviously have zero friends in the non World Wide Web world stoke it for you.

John Says:
Hello Harry H,

I have absolutely no understanding why you have asked me to reply to this. Best wishes and thanks for your loyalty to Carnival.

John

Steve Guthrie Asked:
Hmmmmmm…………

I do not expect to get a reply to this. Actually I expect to get tossed off the blog and probably overboard on the cruise.

Guys molesting you…

Guys with crushes on you…..

Poor me not in Business or First Class……

Fingers worn out from typing…….

Comparing oneself to “THE FONZ”…..

Look you are the Carnival Ambassador of Fun.

You put the Fun in Fun Ship.

You continued where Greg Neal bailed out.

You should not have this much time to be typing a blog or replying on face book when you have so many other duties. I guess either the nights are very lonely on Carnival Ships or you type very fast or PROBABLY you just like being a conduit to all of us landlubbers that long to be out there on the seven seas with you.

Please, Please, Please keep the sarcasm coming.

Please, Please, Please find a way to stay on the ships and do not become a beard.
And if I could vote with my stocks I would vote you travel First Class when you are on business. I would take a five point drop in my shares for that.

I know Gerry Cahill is going through hard times but he perhaps needs to sell a few calculators and give you the travel you deserve.

Oh wait here I am typing this and figuring out what to say in a really hard meeting and there you are getting ready to sail the seven seas and having fun doing what it is you love……

Gerry go ahead and make him fly coach in a middle seat for the rest of his career 🙂

Keep up the good work.

Steve G

John Says:
Hello Steve G,

And now I see that the beards have a brilliant sense of humour and paired your post and that of Harry H next to each other. Absolutely brilliant. I hope to meet you one day as I think it’s safe to say……………we have a very similar sense of humour. Best wishes.

John

Fancy Nancy Asked:

Please reply

Hi John we had a good time on the cruise but Jen the CD was awful and her voice and dress sense were the talk of the ship and many of my Cruise Critic cruise aficionados agree. Also why isn’t there a kids menu for lunch in the restaurants?

John Says:

Hello Fancy Nancy,

Yep, your right and we need a children’s menu in the dining room at lunch time and will make sure I pass this on. I seem to remember this coming up before so I will mention this again. While I respect your opinion and that of many other “aficionados” I also know that there are many who absolutely love Jen Baxter as there CD but as she is a grown lady and a professional who loves her job, I know she would want to see this so I will forward your comments to her

Best wishes and I will get to work on the menu.

John

Danny Stout Asked:
Hello John, (Reply when you are able and if you would like.)

Thank you so very much for helping us out for our January 29th cruise on the Liberty. My partner, nephew and I had a table to ourselves in the Silver dining room which we very much enjoyed, and my nephew really thought it was neat that we allowed him to bring the tip envelope to the maitre’d. He was most surprised about his little gift you facilitated getting to our cabin. We sent a word of thanks to Todd for helping that along. It was a most special first cruise for Anthony, and that surprise made it even more special.

What input have you asked for the in the past? Let me think. I thought there was a great balance of announcements. We really enjoyed the “fun” new music. It really was an amazing vacation! I’m trying to think of all the amazing things that happened on the cruise, but the list is just too long to list.

The most amazing thing is the friendliness and attitude of Carnival staff. Most impressive to us were the people we see every day, from Eric (our steward) who always new us by name, even when he was getting back on the ship in Cozumel, to Seksan, Gregori and Valentina in the Silver Dining Room. We made fast friends with all three. Gregori was particularly happy to be going home to Romania and then on the Magic. Seksan found a special place in our hearts with his kindness and personal touch and flair. Valentina makes a mean cappuccino.

Todd was an amazing CD! While he’s energetic and amazing, he’s almost quite the opposite from Butch, our last CD. They are both amazing, but just different ends of the spectrum I guess. I truly thing this is want Carnival does the best, besides providing the best vacation for the money we spend…personal service. Not once did we feel that people were being nice to us in a fake way. It came across as genuine and sincere…truly amazing.

The entertainment was great, especially the guy who did juggling and physical humor. We laughed so hard and had an amazing time!!! I truly think it was one of the most memorable and enjoyable performances we have seen by non-carnival entertainers. The Punchliner comedy club was also a great touch and we were happy to see it doing so well, and the live karaoke was very popular as well. We didn’t participate, but were happy to cheer on our other cruise friends.

Complaints? Not a one!!!! Well, maybe half of one. The only time service didn’t shine was when we were ordering soft drinks at the events in the large theater. We participate in the soft drink program, and I can understand not being excited about not getting drink gratuity. It was just a little obvious that they were less than excited, and our drinks took much longer to get back than the usual person. I ended up ordering drinks from a couple of people and I just had two for the events. I hate to mention it, but want to provide as balanced of a review as I can.

I could write volumes about this trip, but thought I’d leave it at that. I’m still keeping up to date on your blog posts, but I’m still looking forward to hearing about some of the practical jokes that have been played on the ships. I bet you have some quite hilarious stories for us.

Thanks Carnival for our 3rd amazing cruise vacation!

Sincerely,

Danny

John Says:
Hello Danny,

That’s a brilliant review and one I am honoured to share with the blog readers and one I will also be honoured to share with the people on the ship that gave you such a great time. We will get better with the drink service during the shows and thanks for sending in this review which I know everyone will have enjoyed reading. Please let me know if there is anything else you need.

Best wishes to you and the family,

John

Grace J Asked:
John/please would you replym,

I recently was on the Valor and noticed that you had something called Friends of Dorothy meetings in your Fun Times. I asked the GSD what this was and he told me that it was a gay and lesbian party. I was amazed by this and wondered why a family cruise line would offer such a thing. I have been made to feel quite angry by this. Please tell me this information is not correct as I don’t think this is right.

John Says:
Hello Grace J,

Please don’t worry Grace. It’s not a party but a chance for our gay and lesbian guests to meet together and make new friends. I am sorry you were upset by this but respectfully, we want all our guests to have the best possible time and if we can help them do that then, of course, we will. I should also add that we organize meetings for all sorts of different groups. Please let me know if you have a follow up to this and I hope you had a great cruise

Best wishes,

John

Conti 808 Asked:
John,

On a poll last year many cruise critic members voted not to have dancing and those stripper like performances on the podiums is it not time to have one dining room where peace and quiet and good conversation is the only thing you will hear why not have one dining room with no entertainment and one with so passengers have a choice!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Says:
Hello Conti 808,

Thanks for taking the time to write and the reason is simply that I think the vast majority still enjoy the entertainment we put in the dining rooms and to have one whole dining room without would not be popular. I don’t remember the poll results but I think I am right in saying that most agreed and said they wanted the shows and fun to continue. Thanks again for writing though.

Best wishes,

John

That’s all for today. I am now way behind and I don’t see myself getting caught up anytime soon so please, if its urgent, click on the like thingy on my Facebook thingy on the right……… no …….. the other right………….yes…………up there………..that’s it…………you are now my mate on FB and I will definitely get to your question quicker over there. But please keep the comments coming as they remain so important. Cheers.

Oh and one more thing. Today I was asked to send an email on my plans for SportSquare to the beards in the office. All I had to do was click the mouse, type in some names, a few lines about my plans and press send. It took maybe 3 minutes tops. I then got an e-mail back from a middle ranking beard that said “Thanks, you’re a star.” Nothing makes one feel quite so patronized as receiving excessive praise for a minor accomplishment. This is how we talk to toddlers when they’re being potty trained, not adults with hemorrhoids and grey hair.

Another example was during a conference call last week when someone told someone else on the call that they were “a legend.” All this person had done was say that they would send a memo out. Honestly, it makes me want to shove their head in a vice and fashion it into a decorative vase.

So here I am, sitting in my underpants at the hotel in Monfalcone, Italy. It has been a brilliant day and a frustrating day as well. Let me start with the frustrating bit first. It’s now 4 pm local time and it’s only now that I have had the chance to sit down and start a blog thingy, something I haven’t done for a few days. It was frustrating because the ship does not have working computer systems just yet and, given that the ship is still under construction, some of the crew cabins were not ready when we arrived, hence me and 239 other crew members are in hotels for the time being.

And while I love Italy, their people, cars and food, I would rather be in Rosie O’Donnell then in an Italian hotel…..why?…………….Well that’s a subject for a whole other blog. I wanted to write this blog at the shipyard but there is not a single piece of real estate for me to sit at and even if there was, its loud, busy and hectic and no place for this fat git to sit in his underpants and write to you lot. So, I rented a car and drove back to the hotel where I sit now, writing this blog on an internet service that makes the ship’s service look warp speed quick. Honestly, this is slower than a hamster that has been nailed to the floor…..broadband mia cullo. That was frustrating part.

The brilliant part……seeing your Carnival Magic…….and let me tell you……….. she is ……….. absolutely that……………..bloody magic.

It would be easy for me to ramble on about this and that and so, I have decided to concentrate on one thing at a time or in this case one section of the ship per blog. I will also give you daily facts and figures about what is happening onboard. Here, then, are a few from today.

1. So far there are 239 Carnival Magic crew members who have arrived and are working. As I said, we are all living in hotels for a few days until we move on board.

2. There are approx 800 shipyard workers who are putting all the finishing touches to the ship. They still have a lot to do and it never ceases to amaze me in all the new ships I have worked on just as you think “Bugger me, there’s a lot of work to do,” everything always seems to get done.

3. The busiest people today from the Carnival crew are the provision staff who are loading on 28 truckloads of food and supplies ready to feed and take care of the crew.

4. Until the crew are able to eat onboard they are all eating in the yard canteen where you have a choice of pasta, pasta, pasta or if your lucky a nice bowl of ummmm…………..pasta.

5. Today I walked the ship with Hotel Director Donato, Maitre D Ken Byrne, F&B Manager Igor and some beards from the office. We have no working elevators as the ship remember still belongs to Fincantieri and until we hand over a big bag of money during delivery later this month….they decide what happens on board…….and today they decided no elevators ………………… the bastards.

6. My new personal assistant Mel Diaz arrives tonight

Well, I was excited to see the ship and she did not disappoint. The promenade deck looks so different with the RedFrog Pub, a smaller disco and the steakhouse at the aft section. Now as I said, I could talk all day about this and that but like a German dominatrix…….I must be disciplined ………..and stick to just one thing……….and today………….that’s the RedFrog Pub.

Now, I will start by showing you 2 photos taken with my raspberry. Now I am not going to flood you with photos for a week or so as most of the ship is either under covers or not entirely completed just yet.

I will though bring you lashings of photos nearer the time to sailing once she is cleaned up and looking her best. But I digress. The RedFrog Pub……..well what surprised me here is the size with Carnival having given loads of real estate to this area. Here are 2 photos of the entrance …….and an insignia that I think many will get to know…………….and love.


And here are some of the highlights that the Red Frog Pub will offer.

1. Draught beers include: Stella Artois, Newcastle Brown Ale, Bass Ale and Heineken Lager and of course the must have ThirstyFrog Red which beer drinking mates have described as simply delicious. One chap I spoke to today said it was well balanced and that he could taste caramel and nuts and that it was a beautiful red colour (spelt correctly). There will be souvenir pint glasses and other merchandise such as shirts and baseball caps etc for sale.

2. To complement the Caribbean vibe, RedFrog Pub will serve a fantastic selection of Caribbean rums including: the Jamaican Sunrise and the one that I have a feeling is going to be the favourite………..The Cruiser which has…………well…………..you will have to wait a while for the recipe but everyone I have spoken to says it’s something you won’t forget in a hurry.

3. Another brilliant addition is the rum and beer samplers. These are served on a specially created wooden tray and give you a chance to sample the four draught beers and four Caribbean rums. How good is that?

4. Hungry………well the food choices also take you back to the Caribbean with: Firecracker Jamaican Wings, Bahamian Conch Salad, and Kicked Up Conch Fritters just three examples. And talking of the number 3……………the cost of every item is $3.33………………oh and an Icky Sticky Coconut Cake at $2.22.

So I will have darts, live music, recorded music on the video juke box, pub style games, shuffleboard, dominoes and much, much more. Then, on the RedFrog’s Lanai……you can sit and drink a pint of ThirstyFrog Red and relax in the swinging chairs and watch the sun set …….and if you have had a few too many rum samplers…………..the sun rise as well. I also intend to have live music outside the pub as well.

And for you non drinkers like me we have you covered …….because it don’t mean thing if it aint got that Ting……the classic Jamaican soda.

The inside of the pub is non-smoking the outside on The Lanai as it’s the port side is smoking. This promises to be a wonderful addition and I can’t wait to put this incredible space to use. Cheers ……..and see you there for the daily sunset festivals! You are the first people to know this much about this brilliant new addition. Everyone seems excited about the dart board I remember my history teacher Mrs. Bright telling me Henry VIII was a keen darts player and I can understand that. Because he didn’t have a PlayStation and he needed something to take his mind off an alarming collection of sores that were multiplying in his underpants thanks to those six wives of his, I can believe that throwing some shortened spears at the bottom of a beer barrel might in some way be deemed entertaining. Bet he would love the RedFrog Pub…and I bet you will too.

Tomorrow I will be talking about SportsSquare, Cucina del Capitano and much, much more.

You know, your Carnival Magic has some gorgeous lounges and fun for all spaces and I have no fear in saying that she will be a massive hit with you the guests. But often we look inside the ship and marvel and her glitz and glamour and yet we forget to stop……..and take a look at just how beautiful she is………yes…………..the ship herself is beautiful…………….and with respect to the rest of the fleet I think the Dream class is the most beautiful. How beautiful is she ……….. well she is as beautiful as the sun setting………………..over Megan Fox’s bottom. I can’t wait to show more of her to you tomorrow……………………have you booked yet?

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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