Entourage

April 11, 2011 -

John Heald

One of my favourite comedians Billy Connelly once said “The Queen must think the entire world smells of fresh paint.” That’s because whenever Her Majesty visits anywhere, it is given a complete paint job the day before. It’s the same scenario for Carnival Corporation & plc Chairman and CEO Micky Arison. As he always does, he came to visit his new ship, his Carnival Magic, last Friday and that meant that on Thursday and all through Thursday night the ship was made to look spotless. The day before my fat arse had climbed 10 flights of stairs because the sodding elevators were not operational. Oh but as soon as Mr. Arison walks onboard every elevator was suddenly working and even the thingies that had been drawn on the walls had been painted over and each elevator was operated by a naked Latvian woman.

Suddenly, overalls and steel toe cap shoes were replaced with suits, ties and smart shoes. Mr. Arison must think that all the shipyard workers wear Armani when they are welding, painting and building. I watched as his entourage walked past me. I nodded and smiled and he nodded and smiled back probably thinking “Who is that fat bastard in sweat pants and a T- shirt?” And when I say entourage, I mean a proper movie star entourage and if Mr. Arison had come to a sudden unexpected stop he would have had half of Italy up his bottom.

You see, unlike like the typical CEO, Micky Arison is always cheerful, modest and content to stop and talk to the crew and to guests on his ships. Which, let’s face it, most CEOs would not.

Despite his achievements, Mr Arison remains basically “normal,” with no desire to be famous, happy to be in the background. This is probably one of the keys to his success. He has never forgotten his roots, working both onboard the ships and in the office, learning from the bottom, growing to the top. His background has meant that he can relate not only to the average cruise guest but also to the cruise line employees. He is comfortable with them and they can read that and are therefore comfortable with him.

His great love, apart from his beautiful (and I might add British) wife and his two brilliant children, is of course the Miami Heat who he has helped lead to one championship already and dare I say may…………just may………….lead to another one soon. The respect he carries has been hard earned and I know that his dad would have been so very proud of his son. I would love to do interview with him and maybe when this humble blog reaches 10 million…….maybe he allow me to sit down with him and chat about his life and the journey still to come as Carnival approaches its 40th anniversary.

From what I understand he loved the Carnival Magic and was truly happy with the ship and excited about some of the new innovations onboard. He has left to fly home now and I miss him so so much. It’s not that we were hanging out together talking about Megan Fox’s bottom or the muffin he had for breakfast……………..nope………I miss him so, so much……… because the bastards have turned the elevators of again.

In this photo we see Captain Cutugno, Mr. Micky Arison (wearing his hard hat in a fashionable tilt) and Chief Engineer Gazzolo.

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

 

Judy B Asked:
Dear John (please reply), 

Hubby and I just got off the Carnival Liberty Feb. 12 and had a fabulous time as always on Carnival. We did the “Behind the Fun” Tour and also enjoyed a delicious meal in the steakhouse.

But one thing happened every morning that put a damper on my cruise…at exactly 6:30 a.m., the piped-in music would start playing in the hallways outside the cabin and wake me up. Now I purposely did not pack my alarm clock since I was on vacation – and we were part of a large group on the Liberty that week and others mentioned it woke them up too! The music was loud enough that I could recognize the song & artist. Apparently several people complained because on the 4th day of the cruise, the hallway music did not play until much later in the morning.

John, I’m only mentioning this because I think the ‘beards’ should make it a policy fleet wide that silence is golden in the hallways until at least 8 a.m. and I figured you could send my request to them. Thanks!

John Says:
Hello Judy B,

I am so glad you had fun. I have just spoken to the hotel director of the Carnival Liberty, Pierre, via e mail. He was surprised by this and confirmed that this would be looked into. It certainly is not normal and I have not heard this happening before. Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention and I apologise that this happened. We certainly do not want our guests woken up by anything that early and I am truly sorry that it did.

Best wishes,

John


SP&S Asked:

John Heald, Complaint!

I want you to know that I was treated so badly by your Fascination security people. I had packed my hookah in my suitcase but after the boat left I was called to see the security people who said I could not have it and it would be returned to me at the end of the 4 days. Why did this happen because we sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Monarch and we were allowed to have it there and smoked it on the top deck over the sea. I am Persian and so is my wife and this is our custom that Carnival shows not to respect.

John Says:
Hello SP&S,

I have to be honest straight away and tell you that I had to ask Uncle Google what a hookah was and now of course I see that it is a smoking pipe. I also didn’t know what our policy on this was and so I had to ask our head of security and this was his reply:

It is on the list of prohibited/confiscated items on our web and they are not allowed. Hookahs were determined to pose a fire safety hazard and added to the confiscated items list on August 9, 2010

So, please except my apologies for the inconvenience and I hope that you had a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes,

John

Mark Blei Asked:
Hi John please answer

I have a question in relation to the comment and question you answered by “Carnival Platinum Cruiser” about tipping.

First I am also a platinum cruiser and a three star HAL cruiser and I always tip my cabin staff before and after each cruise. I find it makes friends and as I am on your ships a lot and often the same ones often in a year, it helps.

The prepaid gratuities in fact do give some tips to cabin staff am I correct.

That was my question, but I also wanted to stat that. It is often easy to disregard how hard these people work because their job is to be unobtrusive. It may seem that your ice bucket gets filled almost by magic and your beds are made and that in fact a cruise is all about individual service. But remember they are giving not just you that individual service, but dozens of other people. I can’t even figure out how they remember my name when I see them in the halls.nit seems every time I step outside of my room, I come back to it being cleaned.

For the wonderful service I get, and the appreciation that I know it shows, I’m always happy to toss in a few extra dollars.

Especially since I’m such a pain in wanting my ice refilled so often 🙂

I think they do a great job.

Sincerely,

Mark Blei

John Says:
Hello Mark Blei,

Did you know your last name means “happy” in Dutch? So, hello Mr. Happy and thanks so much for your loyalty to both Carnival and the wonderful Holland America Line. I know tipping is still a controversial subject and I truly appreciate your kind comments that I think it’s safe to say are shared by many. Pre-paid gratuities go 100% to the crew and are divided between the stateroom steward and the restaurant service team. The crew is still what makes Carnival the world’s most popular cruise line and I thank you most sincerely for acknowledging them here. Best wishes and hope to sail with you soon.

John

Seth S Asked:
John Please reply,

I was astonished to see that I had to go to the main dining room to get SALMON ON A BAGEL FOR BREAKFAST. Please stop this stupidity and have salmon available on the lido part of the ship for breakfast.

John Says:
Hello Seth,

You are correct and we do only serve salmon in the restaurant for breakfast and there are no plans to introduce this on the Lido. I must say that I find the dining room a very relaxing place to eat breakfast on board and it always surprises me that more people don’t.

Best wishes,

John

YWaite Asked:
Hello John – please reply

My family and I will be on the Ecstasy at Easter and notice that our cruise director will be Steve Castle. What can you tell me about him? We sailed with Goose last year on the Splendor and did not care for him at all so please tell us that Steve is a great director.

Thanks so much

John Says:
Hello YWaite,

I was sorry to read you did not enjoy Goose as a CD, that’s a shame as I know he has many fans. Steve’s last name is Cassel and he is absolutely unique. It is safe to say there is no other CD like him…………….here he is.

Hello everyone!

My first stage performance was at age 5. I tap danced at the Pomona State Fair in California. I finished my little routine and the crowd went nuts. I liked it so much that I did the entire routine again, this time without the music. They went nuts again. My dad was yelling at me from the wings to get off the stage. I started the routine again for the third time, at which point my dad walked out onstage, picked me up and carried me off, still tap dancing. The place was in hysterics, including the announcer. It was the most fun I’d ever had. I’ve loved the stage ever since.

I started with Carnival back in July, 1986 on the Tropicale. I’d been working as a professional juggler for 11 years, and sent my videotape to Carnival from Harvey’s, Lake Tahoe where I was working in a revue show called Body Language. I was currently in three national commercials airing at the time; Doublemint Gum, Doritos, and a Dr. Pepper commercial with Chuck McCann. I loved the ship life and the consistent work of my new job, and am still at it. I was promoted to Cruise Director in December 1987 on the Tropicale.

I’ve worked the Tropicale, Mardi Gras, Carnivale, Celebration, Holiday, Jubilee, Fantasy, Ecstasy, Sensation, Imagination, Inspiration, Fascination, Carnival Valor, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Victory, Carnival Triumph, and am currently on the Carnival Ecstasy again. I first took the Ecstasy in 1993, converting the East / West run to a 3 & 4 day to Key West & Cozumel. Then again in 2000. Third time’s a charm!

I was hired as a juggler, an act which I still do, but throughout school I’d been planning to be a concert violinist. The problem was that I didn’t want to dress like a penguin for the rest of my life. I now take advantage of that as the fiddle player in the Xtreme Country show. (The fiddle, not the penguin part) The Ecstasy currently sails out of Galveston, Texas and country fiddle goes over very well. Surprisingly, performing the first movement of Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Allegro non Molto at the end of the talent show goes over very well, too. I believe that all people appreciate the classics, even if they keep it a secret.

Fun Facts: I’m an Eagle Scout. I won the Gong Show as the world’s fastest juggler, show #464. I have a cameo appearance in the movie “The Beach Girls.” I’ve been in 7 national commercials. I’m famous, although nobody knows it. I’m happily married, with a wife and two children.

My favorite animals are dogs, tigers, pigs and turtles. I think God was in an unusual mood when he made the turtle.

I’ve been on two ships that have won the Crystal Eagle award, and am very proud of everyone involved.

I look forward to many more years with the greatest company in the world, and the greatest people to work for: Carnival Cruise Lines!

Steve

Have fun with him………….personally, I think Steve is brilliant
Best wishes
John

James S Asked:
John, please respond

I am not a Carnival cruise fan and have never been on your line. I am though a regular on RCI but please don’t panic. I am not here to pass judgment on the company you work for. Instead I am here to say I read your blog because you are a great writer and your daily stories are hilarious and I only wish that RCI had someone who could start a blog and offer the same high level of customer service that you do. Have you seen any Royal cruise directors and if so do you think they could do what you do and may I ask how long you spend on both the blog and now your

Facebook? I think that they are missing the boat so to speak. Thank you John and maybe one day I will come cruise with you

James

John Says:
Hello James,

Thanks so very much for those kind words. Let me say that RCI has I am sure many fine CD’s but the two that stand out to me are Richard Spacey and Graham Seymour. Both these chaps are hilarious, I mean really funny, and as a regular RCI cruiser I am sure you must know this. And I can see either one of these writing a blog that would be a huge success I am sure. I spend about 3 hours a day on FB and 3 hours on the blog and I will say that to miss this with being a CD means very early mornings and very, very late nights. I hope we do get to sail together one day as well. Until then I send you my best wishes.

John


MoonCruiser Asked:

John, REPLY REQUESTED

Because pax were withdrawing the allotted maximum daily cash, and using their S & S card, and getting double points. They weren’t spending the $$ in the casino. They would take the $$ home and pay off the CC. So they were taking cash from the casino just to earn double CC points. This needs to change especially for OPC pax. DP’s should mean more and now the on us gimmick means less CC points and the OP pax are losing out.

John Says:
Hello MoonCruiser,

Ummmmm…………….ummmmmmm……….I read this three times and I think either I have the brain capacity of the lesser spotted Mongolian bog pig or you have written this in Klingon. It’s probably me though and I am guessing this is something to do with the casino so I sent this to a casino beard who has the code book and will get him to reply to you directly if that’s OK. Sorry I couldn’t help more

Best wishes

John

Kappa Alpha Maria Asked:
REPLY THIS TIME MIGHT BE NICE!

JOHN IF YOU STOPPED ANSWERING ALL THE REQUESTS FOR FREE STUFF YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO CATCH UP ON YOUR QUESTIONS THAT CONTAIN REAL NEEDS AND NOT THOSE SAD BEGGING ONES MADE BY NO LIFERS. I ASKED YOU TO HELP MY AUTISTIC CHILD AND HAVE YET TO HAVE AN ANSWER!!!!

John Says:
Hello Kappa Alpha Maria
I did in fact post a reply to your question yesterday and in fact another blogger, Linda, gave you some wonderful advice as well. Here is the link.

http://johnhealdsblog.com/2011/04/06/like-a-bat-out-of-hell/#comments

I am sorry again for the delay.

Best wishes,

John


Alan S Asked:

Dear John, PLEASE REPLY!

Thank you so much for helping my son propose on stage. You may remember I wrote to you about my sons injuries sustained in Afghanistan and how special the cruise and the proposal to Angela was for him. Butch the CD and Captain Marino were fantastic and the formal night proposal at the Ocean Bar was just perfect. The gifts you sent were also wonderful and I thank Carnival so much for everything they did and I want to say a special thank you John because you are a very special person who I hope to meet one day.

Alan

John Says:
Hello Alan,

I am so glad that everything worked out thanks to my colleagues on Carnival Dream. May I wish Carl and Angela a wonderful life together and please thank your son for his service.

Best wishes to you all.

John

That’s all for today. Thanks again for all the great comments and I will continue my best to get your questions answered here and on Facebook as quickly as I can. Talking of Facebook I mentioned on Friday that I would not be able to take reservations for the Cucina del Capitano via my blog thingy. Well, I am able, but honestly I am not sure I can manage it so it’s best that I don’t let you down and that you book this onboard. I will continue though to do The Chef’s Table for the entire fleet for you.

So, what’s happening on your Carnival Magic?

1. Well I caused a bit of a bother on FB by mentioning that the ship is the first in the fleet to offer energy saving system in the cabin which will make the tofu eaters and Peter the Polar Bear very happy indeed. The reason I caused a bit of bother was that I didn’t explain it well so let me try again here.

There is a laminated key slot on the right hand side of the cabin as you enter, right next to the bathroom door. As you enter place your key in the slot and you will be able to turn on the lights. When you leave the cabin, take the key out of the slot and a few minutes after you leave the lights will turn off. Now when you return, if you have left the light switches in the on position, the lights will automatically come on again so you never walk into a dark cabin.

When you leave the cabin and remove the key, the power remains in all the 110 power outlets (I say all because there are 2 on the Carnival Magic) and the air conditioning will also remain on at all times. There, hopefully that is simple enough and my apologies for my first explanation which looked like it was written by Charlie Sheen.

2. I have finally as of today moved into my cabin. It looks bear as I haven’t put up any photos yet or any kind of personal touches. The good news is……that Ketut, my faithful stateroom steward, is here and more about him later in the blog.

3. There are now 800 crew onboard. This includes the entertainment staff of whom I will be introducing you to later this week. The musicians and dancers arrive on the 19th.

4. And now I have to start to remember how to be a CD again so this week my job includes:

  • Schedules and Fun Times for 7 different European voyages
  • Entertainment schedules
  • SportSquare schedules
  • Shore excursion distribution schedules

Obviously I will do my best to juggle all of the above and more with the blog and Facebook so please bear with me.

Work is continuing onboard and we still have many hundreds of Fincantieri workers who are putting the finishing touches to the amazing ship they have built you. In the evening we have been given permission to open the crew lounge to serve sodas and beer but the entire ship both inside and out is non-smoking as welding and other hot work continues.

There is already a great sense of comradeship amongst the crew and it’s my job to make sure that continues. So, each day at noon I make an announcement welcoming the new people onboard and letting them know what’s happening. I do this in English and then choose a different language everyday and hearing me speak Filipino, Russian and Indonesian etc apparently amuses the crew……I will video such an announcement for you soon.

There are a few stressed people around and most of those are on their first new ship delivery. Stress has become so common in the modern world that the word trips off the tongue as readily as Coca Cola or Eye Pod. While our grandparents went marching off to war armed with a cigarette and a prayer, we latter day heroes see that the Cucina tablecloths haven’t arrived yet, or a stain on the brand new deck 7 carpet as an excuse to reach for a prescription drug. But overall, it’s a great atmosphere here and it will be even better as we head toward May 1 and the first group of guests.

Recently I posted an interview with Captain Cutugno the Master of the Carnival Magic and today I would like you to meet the chief engineer……………here he is.

Chief, can you tell us about your life, where you are from and your sea going career.

I was born on Dec. 09, 1953 in a town on the Italian Riviera in the Province of Genova. I graduated from Cristoforo Colombo Naval School, in Camogli on 1972 and after the Military Service I did start my career with Italian Line in 1975, a government company owning the most prestigious transatlantic ships going from Europe to North and South America. I served as cadet and third engineering officer on Verdi, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, Guglielmo Marconi and Galileo Galilei. In April 1985 I joined Carnival Cruise Lines being appointed to the construction of the Holiday. In the same year I was promoted to 1st Engine Officer. Following with the Jubilee, the Celebration under construction at the famous Swedish shipyard Kokums. After two contracts on the Tropicale I was assigned at the commissioning of the Fantasy in Finland. I was than following the construction of the Ecstasy and the Sensation. On 1992 I was promoted to Staff Chief Engineer and Chief Engineer on 1994. I was assigned to the first Azipod ships Elation and Paradise and after that to the Pride, Legend and Miracle and the Carnival Dream and am so honred to be Chief Engineer on the Carnival Magic.

I know this is a question that could take days to answer but briefly……..what is the job description of a Carnival Chief Engineer.

With the constantly evolution of technology the duty of the chief engineer has been evolving into a more sophisticated and complex task compare to the ancient times. Besides leading the technical department and all related matters, there are today sensitive aspects like the environmental and human resources. The technical job description can be summarized in the few worlds that I mentioned. The chief engineer supersedes the technical department. That involves all machineries not only in engineering spaces but all around the ship.

The ship had sea trials in early March and I wondered if you could tell us what sort of tests were carried out from your side in engineering.

The sea trial is a very difficult and demanding time and also very, very important. It was divided into two sections and between them a dry dock was programmed. Actually the sea trial is the first voyage of a ship’s life. All possible tests are performed (night and day) not only to prove the most important issues like stability, maneuverability and speed but also all comfort and entertainment aspects for the guest and crew. During the sea trial the yard has to demonstrate that the ship’s specification aspects are fulfilled and sometimes (like on some cases of the Carnival Magic are exceeded). All safety and control devices are tested and verify the good functionality of all the equipment. The first days it takes several hours to do the adjusting and fine tuning of all the equipments. After the first 3 days section the ship was in Trieste dry dock for cleaning and painting of the hull and inspection of propulsion propellers and thrusters plus inspection of all underwater equipment like fins stabilizers, rudders and all important sensor like echo sounder, speed log and antifouling and catholic protection.

What engines will be powering Carnival Magic and can you give us some other facts.

Carnival Magic is a diesel electric ship with Six Wartsila 12 Cylinder V type Engines providing the electrical power for the propulsion system (and all related ancillaries) and the hotel. Each Engines output is 12,6 MW (megawatts) nominal mechanical Power. The two propulsion electrical motor (Alstom) have an output power of 22 MW each at 135 R.p.M. The new design Becker rudder efficiency has allowed to installed only two stern thrusters instead of three like an all the previous ships. Besides this there are much more new or more advanced equipments like fresh water generators (evaporators), human waste collecting system and bacteriological treatment plants.

How many crew will you have in Engineering?

Engineering Department includes 79 crew included myself.

Now the ship is here in the yard what is the Chief Engineer’s role while the ship is in the yard?

During the commissioning time at the shipyard still many tests and checks are performed. CCL Shipboard Team is witnessing the tests and get familiar with the new equipment. Many tasks need to be organized for start up of the ship to cruising, not only technical but logistically and administrative works i.e. organizing all offices and workshops and very important to generate all consumable and spare parts requisitions, plus the database of PMS (programmed maintenance plan).

Are there any new features in the engine room of the Carnival Magic or is it basically the same as other Carnival ships?

As I mentioned before technology is improving and evolving day by day and so even if in a major aspect we can say that the Carnival Magic is still a diesel electric ship there are many other and new features that makes her in some way a new prototype.

Having had time now to see your new command and your new home, what do you think of our new flagship and how proud are you that you were chosen to be her chief engineer?

As said before, with a very good luck, I was assigned to many new ships. All of them gave me some worries and a lot of pride. I have tried to transmit the same feeling to all of the engineering crew and I guess all have the same emotion and proud with hope of another Carnival’s success.

What do you think will be your single greatest challenge during the first few months of sailing?

The first months will be very hard and challenging. Still minor equipment which have not been tested on quay and at the sea trial will have to be put in service, adjusted and tuned for the purpose. Some crew that will arrive just before delivery of the ship need to be trained and instructed which I consider one of the most important task of a manager nowadays. It is also our intention to retest functionality and effectiveness of mostly of the safety and control device which were tested at the sea trials and like we regularly do during ship’s operation.

Let’s find out more about you. Fill in the blanks please

Your dream car: I know that you are expecting me to say a Ferrari, and I’ll surprise you saying…I love horses!!! Anyway I have a car and I still have my 1974 convertible FIAT America. I’m proud about FIAT. Please let me tell you a hilarious note about this. When I first came to the States (1976) everybody was joking with Fix It Again Tony (acronyms of FIAT) and now Fiat is passing the advanced Technology to the other makers: common rail, multi jet system etc. What about that??

Your favourite place in Italy: I live in Genoa and Torino, but my favorite place is Venice, a very unique place.

Your all time favorite movie: Very difficult question, I like movies and particularly a like actors like Jack Nicholson, De Niro, Al Pacino. Hope to have more time for movies when I retire.

The single greatest engineering achievement the world has ever seen is: Another funny true story. When I started my career one old captain who was telling me that his first contract was on a sail ship (and he had to bring on board his own mattress, like all the rest of the Crew!!) was telling me that two things has drastically changed the life on board: air conditioning and stabilizers. I have been found myself thinking many times about this and still I believe that in marine field this was a great achievement!!!

Thanks Chief for that great interview and we all wish you many congratulations on a brilliant job once again.

So as I mentioned I am living onboard now having checked out of my hotel which I have nicknamed Il Fawltyo Towerso. It has been quite an experience. One night I left my key in my room and went to the front desk to ask for another. When I say front desk I should point out that this being a boutique hotel of maybe 20 rooms, the front desk was a desk………..like the one I am writing from now…….at the front of the hotel. When I reported I had left my key in room 108 Basilo Fawltyo actually tutted………..he did……..he went “tut” and shook his head side to side as though I had just admitted to accidently crapping in the bed.

Now, instead of giving me another key he walked to the front door of the hotel, locked it so no other bugger could get in…… and then walked me to my room. He made me feel stupid and I kept doing my Hugh Grant nervous apology thingy as we walked down the corridor. He then opened my door and I said thank you in Italian and English but all I got was another shake of the head and some muttering which probably included the words “key, fat and bastard.”

At least one of the benefits of this hotel was the size and it not taking 3 hours to wait for an elevator. Why do the Marriothyattcontinental Hotels of the world have 45 floors of rooms and only four sodding elevators? I often hear people moan about the elevators being slow on the ships but I wish they would compare them to hotel elevators especially when staying on the 34th floor, you are dying for a pee, you wait ages for an elevator and finally get to your room to find your electronic keycard does not work so you must go back to the front desk and start all over again.

This being a boutique hotel and an Italian boutique hotel meant that along with a bed that was just inches off the ground, a bidet for washing ones bottom or feet and a pair of ladies slippers by the bed at night there was also a huge TV with the world’s most complicated remote control system. Why………why does it have 289 buttons………..I need four switches……..on/off…… volume, news and a button for Latvian porn.

The biggest problem I had though was that I stayed at Fawltyo Towerso for a week and did not do any laundry. I tried but I failed. It shouldn’t be that difficult I thought. I will just shove it in the bag that was hanging in the closet and leave it on the bed. But no. There was this form which I had to list exactly what I was handing over…….and this being Italy……..it was only in Italian ………because that’s the only language in the world ………….allegedly. The form was full of words and I did my best to guess what each one was but as there was no word close to Skido Marko Underpantso I could have been suggesting that I needed my elegant dress cleaned and my stockings pressed. The bag sat on my bed and each day I would come back from the ship hoping that it would be removed………..it wasn’t …………… it just sat there……………marinating.

I asked the front desk chap twice if someone could take it…………but they never did …………. which is why Ketut is as we speak…………….wearing his Hazmat suit.

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.