CHERRY ON TOP OF CONTROL PANTS

April 19, 2011 -

John Heald

The vast majority of the crew are now onboard their new home and are all hard at work unpacking boxes, cleaning, preparing, learning, cooking and dancing ready to serve and entertain you. Yet, when the sun goes down the work mostly stops and the crew are free to have fun. Now the Italian authorities do not allow us to serve anything but beer and soda onboard and so that means that many head into Monfalcone to have a slice of pizza, a glass of vino and to let their hair down.

There are two bars close by the ship. They are positioned down a small alley and over the years we have come to know them as “competing bars.” They love it when the ships are being built and the crew are in town and whether its Carnival, Princess, Cunard or other lines………..when the crew are in town……the cash registers are busy.

Last Saturday I took my entertainment staff out for dinner…….a bloody expensive dinner …….. and praise the Lord for my Carnival credit card. After that we all went to the competing bars and I sat down in a chair…………….lit my cigar…………….and watched the games begin.

You see this is prime hunting time. The time when relationships are formed and look, there is no point getting away from the fact that now, as it always has been on cruise ships, relationships happen quickly. A few last forever, some last for the time the two people are on the same ship and most last……….well……………….an hour or so.

And on Saturday night I had a front row seat as I watched the hunters and the hunted. There are subtle differences between the females and the males.
I watched the Italian officers reminding the new hired spa girls just how sexy they are. One young cadet officer strutted around like a peacock and might as well of been holding a sign that said “Check out my arse in these leather pants. Could be your lucky night girls.” And Luigi and his mates made no secret that they were checking out their bottoms.

And certainly the girls were giving as good as they got. One or two seemed to be relying on alcohol but that probably wasn’t a good idea. Cheap Italian wine goggles can lead to magical nights in someone else’s cabin. But going back to the ship with Johnny Depp and waking up with the Elephant Man is not a nice way to spend your first night on the Carnival Magic.

As I watched the circus I felt old……………really old and the thought of “What the hell am I doing here?” hammered away inside my head. I realised that as the twenty somethings were on their rumpy pumpy hunt that I shouldn’t have been there, I should have been home………with my girls.

But obviously, because I’m a man and because I have a thingy I also reminisced on the days when I was on the hunt but then also realised……….I didn’t miss it at all. I don’t have to talk like some teenage rapper to communicate with people. I never have to dance in public again if I don’t want to. I don’t have to give two shiny shites about the latest fashion. I can leave a party when I want and people will understand because I am old. I don’t have to explore my feminine side to be attractive to girls. I don’t have to talk about whether Justin Beaver is cool or not. I don’t have to go through the whole bollocks of lets go for a walk on deck and look at the stars to get some rumpy pumpy. And most importantly……..I can sit here, in my chair and puff on my Monte Cristo and no bugger will come and talk to the old fat bloke who stinks of cigars. And in these busy, absolutely hectic days of meetings, blogs, Facebook and cruise directing……..is bloody priceless. I do miss the bottoms though.

Time for some Q and A…….away we go.

Porter Asked:
Please reply

I agree with the poster today. John, I was on my first Carnival cruise this past week on the Pride. I cannot understand why you allow the crew to get on and off the ship with the passengers. This never happens at Disney cruise lines. There should be a different exit and entry point for the crew people. Priority should be with the paying passengers John. Can I also mention that the quality of the coffee on your lido deck was the worst I have ever had and I spoke to hundreds of other passengers all of who agreed with this statement. The cabin boy I Made was very good.

John Says:
Hello Porter,

Let’s start with the gangway situation. Many times we have crew-only gangways but this is not always possible. You see, it depends on the port and if there is room or space on the pier to open the aft shell doors for a separate crew gangway. Anyway, I am sorry that this troubled you and it sounds like you had a busy cruise talking to hundreds of passengers about the coffee. Did you try our specialty coffee shop by the way? So, I hope you had a fun cruise and thank you for taking the time to write.

Best wishes,

John

Matthew Robinson Asked:
Dear John (please reply),

Shortly after the Splendor incident I found your blog through links on news articles and have been hooked ever since. I’ve spent the past few months going back and reading from the beginning (you’re a great at-my-desk lunch time companion) and I have just fully gotten caught up.

I sailed on my first cruise when I was 13 on the Ecstasy on a family vacation, and have been on several Carnival voyages since. After reading your anecdotes, I quickly begin to piece together that the funny man with an English accent who had a “bedtime story” routine that made such an impression on me as a teenager, now 15 years later, was you. You were “you” back then on the Ecstasy and it’s great to see you haven’t changed!

I proposed to my fiancée this past Thanksgiving shortly before we boarded another family cruise on the Inspiration (it was her first—and Stephanie, the Cruise Director on that ship did a wonderful job) and we quickly decided that we’d celebrate our honeymoon on cruise. My fiancée was born in Italy (US Navy brat) and this May 10th, three days after we get married here in Florida, we’ll be boarding the Carnival Magic (8338) with you for a once in a lifetime cruise, at the beginning of our new life together, cruise around the Mediterranean with you to see, among other places, my wife-to-be’s birthplace in Naples. We could not be more thrilled! Everything and everyone has added to the excitement, especially our booking person named Paxton in Miami (he’s helped my parents several times book and my mom passed on his info and we booked and have passed it on again now to friends who are cruising for their honey moon a week after us!). Every single person we’ve ever encountered on or off ship with Carnival have helped make our experiences amazing.

I don’t know if there’s anything you can do to help us in celebrating our honeymoon in May, but I know we’d love to hear about the don’t miss activities and excursions you’d recommend as you prepare (and we do to!).

Thank you John, for remaining a constant, for giving so much, and for entertaining and educating. Your connection, candor, and spirit affect so many, and we can’t wait to hopefully meet you on the Magic!

The best always, 15 years ago, and hopefully many more than 15 years from now!

Looking forward,

Matthew and Rachel

John Says:
Hello Matthew Robinson,

Thanks so much for joining us here on the blog thingy and I have enjoyed spending lunch time with you. I can’t believe we cruised together all those years ago and I am so happy that we have reconnected here and that you will be joining me for your honeymoon cruise on your Carnival Magic. I will be honored to help celebrate your life together and I would ask that when you board you leave me a note at the guest services desk with your cabin number and a few words of love for your new bride. I will make sure that during the cruise I read this out on my morning show. And of course there will be a few treats for you. I will also be holding an orientation meeting where I will discuss the ports and we will have a dedicated excursion team here to help you as well. If you would like me to try and get you a table for 2 please let me know and I will be happy to do so. Maybe as it’s so close to sailing time you can ask me on Facebook. If not, well I will see you and the new Mrs. Robinson soon.

Best wishes to you both

John

Three Masons Asked:
John Reply,

We just completed our Carnival Liberty cruise for which you arranged a meet and greet for our Cruise Critic group. The Meet and Mingle meeting our group had was very disappointing (our group was fantastic), but the meeting was a dud. We were well over 100, yet Carnival did not indicate by the lack of major cruise officials present that we were an important group to meet with. On NCL and Celebrity Roll Call Meetings on their ships, the meeting was attended by the Cruise Director, Captain or 2nd Officer, Food and Beverage Managers and other important officials of the ship. They answered questions and each gave us their business card to contact them if we incurred any issues or requested any special requests (restaurant reservations, birthdays, etc.) during our cruise. They also provided the normal spread of beverages and eats and a cruise prizes and it was great. The Assistant Cruise director Kevin showed up for a few minutes and then left. There were no senior officers and not even the Cruise director or captain deemed us worthy of a few minutes of their time. Perhaps I have been spoiled by the interest shown to CC members on NCL and Celebrity at these meetings, but in my opinion, Carnival “missed the boat!”

John Says:
Hello Three Masons,

It seems we just cannot win when it comes to arranging meet and greets for Cruise Critic readers. I arranged a room as you requested but respectfully I know I never promised anything such as food, drinks or visit by the captain. I remain at your service and that of other Cruise Critic groups but please know that we do not offer complimentary drinks or food. I will always as a CD try and stop by and my colleagues will also but often they are busy with other duties. Thanks so much to you and all the Cruise Critic members who sailed and I truly hope you had fun.

Best wishes,

John

British Cruisers Norman and Dot Asked:
John, please reply

We enjoy your blog and are surprised that your company allows you to write as you do but are happy that they allow your obvious talents and British humour (spelt properly) to blossom. As you can see from our screen title we are British as well and will be on our first carnival cruise on the Spirit to Alaska this June. My question is in regard to our passports and if the ship will hold them during the cruise? I ask this because neither of us drives and our passports are our only form of identification. Thank you for your time.

Norman and Dot

John Says:
Hello British Cruisers Norman and Dot,

It is always wonderful to welcome fellow Brits to the blog thingy and I thank you for those very kind words. Carnival Spirit is a beautiful ship and oh how you will love cruising in Alaska. The ship does not hold on to your passports and the only time you will need them will be when you go through United States Immigration. I hope you both have a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes,

John

Kathy M Asked:
Dear John, Please Reply,

OK, time for a West Coast Blogger’s Cruise to Alaska or the Mexican Riviera. If you can’t do it in 2012 then how about 2013. You need to do at least one on the West Coast.

Please give my love to Heidi and Kye.

From your # 1 Bloggy Thinggy Fan,

Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M,

I am looking at the options of going back to the Carnival Splendor in 2012 and if I do I hope I will see you and other West Coast bloggers there. I am always grateful to you for your kindness and support Kathy and I hope to see you soon.

Best wishes

John

Rochelle Asked:
John (Please Respond)

I just got back from my cruise on the Carnival Inspiration 2/21/11 5 day cruise. It was truly a wonderful experience. The embarkation and debarkation in Tampa went smoothly compared to my experience last summer on the Carnival Glory in my home NY port. Within 45 minutes of my arrival at the port I was on the ship ready to eat my first meal on deck.

I am a creature of habit and a planner so I never really try new things so in my 4 previous cruises with Carnival, I usually do the same things. Since this trip was a last minute decision, I decided that this would be the cruise I would venture out and try new things. First let me thank you John for my Chefs Table reservation. It was truly an experience I will never forget. For those like my friends and I who have different dietary restrictions, it was not a problem. One of my friends was a vegetarian and I do not eat most seafoods, however Chef Jorge made sure that our food reflected these restrictions and it was really good and was on the same level as the others. As a New Yorker with many fine restaurants to choose from, this meal was worth well above the $75.00. Going back to the dining room the next day was rough. I was looking for 7 courses. A special thanks to Chef Jorge and his team for all that they did.

I also took the Behind the Fun Tour on the last day. I enjoyed everything, but what stood out most was going to the Bridge and the crew areas. It gave me a different view of ship life.

Some concerns that I had was the lack of seats on deck on sea day. When I went to breakfast on the deck prior to my Behind the Fun tour at 9am there were blue towels and shoes on just about every chair. The only thing missing were the people who were probably back in their beds.

My experience in the dining room started off strange. For the first 2 nights we felt somewhat ignored by some of the staff. No one ever came to get our drink order while at the same time the assistant waiter was more focused on making sure the wine for our table mates was fine. It was as if no one realized we did not have drink. Both days we had to ask for a bar waiter which was total opposite of my experience on the Carnival Glory where they were approaching me as soon as I sat down. However, after missing day 3 because of the Chefs Table, when we returned, it was a different experience. I never had to ask again and everyone was making sure our needs were met. I believe our head waiter realized what was going on since we had to keep asking and made sure there were changes. I finally did enjoy my dining room experience. On a side note, I would like to suggest that the turkey bacon or chicken sausage also be offered on deck for breakfast. Currently it is only offered in the dining room breakfast.

Finally kudos to Eugene my room steward for taking care of all my room needs and being that friendly face in the halls and to Stephanie and the Entertainment Team for a job well done. I will truly never forget it and am looking forward to cruise #6.

In closing, I just have 3 questions, are the big shows different on each cruise ship and how long does a show run on a ship before changing? Also why is it that only 1 Welcome Aboard show is offered on the first night and most lounges do not fit everyone. By the time I got out of dinner, all the good seats were gone.

Rochelle

John says:
Hello Rochelle,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this excellent review which was full, of praise and things that we definitely need to improve on. I have sent your comment about turkey sausage to the chef and he has already replied telling me that we can make it available at the lido deck breakfast service across the fleet, so that’s good news. I will pass this review onto the ship and the shoreside VP in charge of this class of vessel. I am sure everyone will appreciate your comments and the people you praised will be thrilled of course. The comments about the dining room will be of particular interest I am sure. So thanks for writing this and I am happy that you had such a wonderful time. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you before you sail again.

Best wishes,

John

Gaterzone Chad Asked:
John,

I am graduating from High School this year and am going to the University of Florida. I aim to be an engineer and want to see the engine room on my cruise. I am going with my parents on the Dream in May so can you arrange this for me. There will be three of us plus two friends as well in the cabins 1334 and 1408. Not in a port day cause we will not be on the ship.

Chad

John says:
Hello Gaterzone Chad,

Congratulations on your graduation and may I please suggest that you tell your parents about the Behind the Fun tour. This will take you to the bridge, the galley and other areas of the ship and of course the engine room where you will meet the chief engineer who will answer any questions you may have. So I wish you a wonderful cruise and best wishes in your endeavors to become an engineer.

John

Jes Deepak Asked:
Hi John, can you reply,

Is the Indian vegetarian meal I read about on your blog today available every night because we are both Indian and vegetarian and will be on our anniversary cruise on the Miracle in June?

Thank you

John Says:
Hello Jes Deepak,

Yes indeed, the vegetarian dinner option is available every night. It won’t be mentioned on the menu but just ask your waiter and he or she will make sure you are well taken care of. I wish you both a brilliant cruise and a very happy anniversary

Best wishes

John

Jennifer Asked:
Reply please

Hi John. I was wondering if Hennie is going to made a full cruise director soon. We sailed with him while he was acting CD on the Fantasy last summer and he was fabulous. We’d love to sail again with him sometime.

John Says:
Hello Jennifer.

Thanks for mentioning Hennie. He covered for me when I left the Carnival Fantasy in 2009 and he did an outstanding job as CD. He will be in the big chair again this year on two or three different ships and I am sure it will not be too long before his a fully fledged CD. Thanks for writing these kind words.

Best wishes,

John

J.M. Taylor Asked:
Reply Please,

John, I weigh 380 pounds. Will I be able to use the water slides on the Dream? We cruise in the summer and I have read that there is a weight limit on the slides. Please can you give me the scoop?

John Says:
Hello J.M. Taylor,

There are no weight limits that I’m aware of but it would though be wrong of me not to mention that it’s quite a climb up to the highest point (the Twister) and the steps are quite steep. I wrote in a blog yesterday I think about just how exhilarating this experience is so I truly hope you get to experience it.

Best wishes

John

That’s all for today and I will be back with more questions answered later today on Facebook.

Let’s start today with a terrific announcement that Carnival has once again partnered with my Miami Heat to help those who need it……here’s Vance with the story.

Carnival Corporation & plc and the Miami HEAT have partnered with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to establish a $50,000 scholarship fund for students who have completed the innovative School to Work mentoring program operated in conjunction with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The mentoring program matches 90 high school students — who are former participants in the HEAT Academy after-school program for at-risk youth — with management personnel from Carnival and the Miami HEAT to provide a first-hand look at the business world.

To be eligible for the Carnival/HEAT/UNCF scholarship, students must demonstrate financial need and meet certain academic eligibility requirements. The maximum award is $5,000 per student and can be used toward tuition, books, room and board, and fees.

Thanks Vance for sharing this with us and congratulations to both Carnival and the Heat for providing some truly wonderful kids the opportunity to go to college. Thanks everyone
And check this out, even the British Press are using the word “beards”…..have a look at this.

It started its life as Formalities, a little corner shop on Promenade Deck that sold a few odds and ends and rented tuxedos. Then, the shop added some bits and pieces and celebratory items and some had some pick and mix candy. Well now, meet Formalities’ big sister…….a place we call Cherry on Top.

And here is the magnificent list of what’s on offer.

Greeting cards

  • 48 types (candy cards, Musical cards)
  • Bliss Items (shower/spa)

Flowers

  • COT branded cards
  • Decorative flower jars

Bulk Candy (51 assorted candies)

Candy containers for sales (COT branded)

Wonka candies

Pucker Powder – Assorted flavors (14 flavors)

  • Sour Grape
  • Sour Fruit Punch
  • Sour Green Apple
  • Sour Lemonade
  • Sour Wild Cherry
  • Sour Peach
  • Sour Watermelon
  • Sour Raspberry
  • Sweet Banana
  • Sweet Root Beer
  • Sweet Strawberry
  • Sweet Tropical
  • Sweet Vanilla
  • Sweet pin colada

Balloons

  • Thanks
  • It is your day
  • You are so special
  • Thinking of you
  • Superman
  • I love you
  • Love
  • Happy anniversary
  • Hello kitty
  • Wish Big
  • Happy Birthday
  • Make a wish
  • Bob Sponge
  • Lollipops
  • Whirly, Unicorn and Smile Pops

Nostalgic candy bulk wrap (sold by the ounce or by jar) – also available in sugar free

  • Taffy Town-Asst-S/F
  • Rootbeer Barrels-S/F
  • Butterscotch-S/F
  • Now & Laters
  • Tootsie Roll
  • Mary Janes
  • Tootsie Pops
  • Smarties
  • Necco Wafers
  • Candy Necklace
  • Bit-O-Honey
  • Lemonheads
  • Caramel Squares
  • Taffy Town Asst\

Hello kitty candies

COT Robes and Hoodies apparel

Ladies apparel

  • COT LIFE IS SWEET LADIES’ FITTED TEE
  • COT BIG CHERRY FITTED TEE
  • COT YUMMY WHITE TANK TOP
  • COT BIG CHERRY GRAY
  • LOUNGE PANTS
  • COT YUMMY LADIES TEE
  • COT GRAY UNISEX HOODIE
  • COT LIFE IS SWEET GRAY WOMEN’S V-NECK

Kids apparel

  • Kids tee
  • Jr hoodie
  • Youth robe
  • Oh and I saved the best to last!!

Confections

  • Rice crispy pops
  • Sweet apples
  • Truffles
  • Chocolate deep cheesecakes
  • Chocolate deep pretzels
  • Cupcakes
  • Cupcakes in cone
  • Chocolate cherry mice
  • Fudge
  • Cookies
  • Sugar Free Cookies

Now you may have noticed that I have managed to add some sugar free items there and I am sure that it will be a very popular place to shop. I will add photos when the Cherry on Top is fully stocked.

OK, I want to answer this question which I think is very important

David Asked:
John Reply please urgently

I am so angry. Carnival canceled Mazatlan as a port on my Splendor cruise. I had booked a tour for my party of 5 of the Sierra Madre Villages with a __________ (an outside tour operator) and when I called to cancel it they refused to refund the tour charging me 50% cancelation fee. It is not my fault that Carnival canceled the port and now I am out $160. I have contacted Carnival but they said there is nothing they could or would do. I have no option but to still cruise with your company but I shall make sure that if this is not resolved that I tell everyone I know never to cruise with Carnival because they just don’t care even though it’s not the customer’s fault. Our booking number is ____ and I expect an immediate reply and resolution.
Thank you!

John Says:

Hello David,

I can sense how upset you are and I am sincerely sorry that the cancelation of Mazatlan as a port of call through August has resulted in you being penalized $160. We canceled the port as did other cruise lines for safety reasons as I am sure you are aware. Unfortunately you booked through an outside tour operator not affiliated with Carnival (whose name I have deleted from your post for legal reasons) and therefore we can’t be responsible for their actions. It is a real shame that their best practices don’t allow for a full refund under these circumstances. All I can do is ask that you relax as best you can and look forward to your cruise on the Carnival Splendor and enjoy every minute. I have taken the liberty of asking my colleagues there to send you a little something from me to wish you a brilliant seven days.

Best wishes,

John

Now as I sit here, in my underpants on this beautiful Italian morning, I am thinking that there may be some skeptics out there that think I am using this story to plug the virtues of booking an excursion through Carnival…..…and they would be wrong because I am saying whatever cruise line you take, please book a tour through the line. “OK,” say the skeptics, “He is just saying this to make the corporation money”…….well, wrong again. Granted, our tours are a revenue source but that has nothing to do with this segment because of the reader’s tale of woe has prompted me to write more on this subject……

You see, thanks to Uncle Google I can make a web site……..and call myself……“Brilliant Tours of The World”……advertise a snorkel tour in the Caribbean …….. do some research and charge less than the organized cruise ship tour………..knock a few bits of 2 x 4 together ……. call that a boat…………..buy a few life jackets from an auction of seagoing memorabilia from the 1940’s…….and that’s it………you have yourself a tour company.

Now obviously that is a bit extreme……..or is it? You see, that fictitious tour company if real would be answerable to nobody…..….and I have heard of so many people who are so happy that they have saved some money by booking independently …….But so annoyed when they get back to the ship at the experience they have just encountered. Yes, there are some excellent companies, but there are those that are simply dreadful.

Remember, tours booked onboard are through tour operators who are accountable and whose equipment is checked and whose product is scrutinized to make sure that tour is exactly what it says it is when you purchase it.

So, will you find it cheaper on the internet?……….perhaps. But will that saving give you peace of mind, the assurance that what you are paying for is what you will get and that you are booking through a reputable company? Well, it is experience not personal opinion that allows me to tell you the answer to those questions is no, it will certainly not.
Yes, we want to make money from our excursion program……….but they are high quality experiences vetted by our company, with tour operators who are in communication with us if you’re running late. You will always get what you pay for and if you feel you didn’t then there’s always someone to talk to at the shore excursion desk about your particular situation. This applies to all of our itineraries and of course in Europe it is even more applicable with random train strikes and traffic in the major cities always a factor.

Look, I hate using this blog thingy as sales tool and I think you will have seen that but having read the above post I felt it was worth me reminding you all about why you should all think seriously about purchasing shore excursions from a cruise line.

On to other business, I know you were expecting the BC5 announcement today and unfortunately we have to wait 24 more sodding hours while various beards do whatever it is they do over at reservations etc. Anyway, I will have the news tomorrow and so sorry for the delay. It wasn’t a shock we were delayed ……………..was it?

Finally, the laundry is working and me and Ketut are very happy indeed. Now I was talking about underpants to a fellow senior officer who like me is fluffy, extra medium…….OK, he’s a fat bastard like me. During our conversation he told me had started to wear something that I had never heard of before…..….something called “control pants.” Apparently these hold in excess stomach bits until you take them off at which point you your body becomes and looks like an exploding lemon meringue pie because any belly that’s been compressed inside a sweaty nylon tube all day does indeed blow up like a balloon.

I had a good laugh about this but then I looked at my colleague sideways on and bloody hell, he looked skinny…..er. I then caught my reflection as I stood waiting for an elevator and I looked like I was 7 months pregnant.

The solution, obviously, is to exercise but who has time bringing out this new ship and blogging and Facebooking and well…………honestly……….I can’t be arsed.
So I am know thinking seriously about getting a pair of control underpants. I know my lady readers will be in despair because their dreams of me wearing a pair of Calvin Armanis with a cucumber and two Brussels sprouts shoved down the front will have been ruined. Sorry girls but my stomach needs help and so its control underpants for me. I am also asking Fincantieri to install a walk-in bath in my cabin and a chair lift on all the stairs.

Spending 8 hours inside what is basically a tube of Cheese Whiz means that although taking off my control underpants would be a wonderful feeling……..it would mean a very bad day for Ketut.

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.