из России С любовью

May 3, 2011 -

John Heald

I told myself that I wouldn’t write about the 600 Russians here on the ship. “Don’t do it you fat bastard,” I said out loud but to no avail. This is a one-off cruise. Yes we will have Russians sailing again but never this high a count and I doubt never this entertaining.

There is so much going on here on the Carnival Magic but as far as the guests are concerned …….the Russians are dominating. Here are two incidents that show I just can’t ignore them.

Unknown Guests
Added-Changed: 05/03/11 – 05/03/11

Spa Manager reported that 3 male Russian guests were in the sauna without clothing. When asked to put clothes on they ignored the request and one was smoking a cigar as well. Security called and eventually they left.

The second incident involves me. Last night Heidi and I were on Lido with Kye having dinner at alternative dining ……..which by the way has a new name and will be listed in the Fun Times across the fleet as “Hungry for More?” Anyway, we were standing in a short line of about 10 people and were at the salad part………obviously the salad was for Heidi not me.

In front of us were two older ladies and as they were placing food on their plates two other ladies literally pushed through them to get to the food. The older ladies were obviously intimidated by this and said nothing but Heidi being Heidi didn’t hold back and politely said that there was a line. The ladies responded by spouting off lots of Russian and continued to get the food before walking off waving their hands in the air.

I guess that for many years, Russia experienced some tough times, with standing in line for bread a regular occurrence. So I guess that now communism has gone they had no intention of lining up for a bowl of salad on Lido deck.

The Russians have money…….loads of soddingov money……..and we are happy that they have chosen to sail with us. However, rules mean nothing to them onboard and it is a challenge for us to try to pleasantly have them understand those rules. It’s hard as well for a five-foot-nothing spa manager to tell an ex-Spetnaz commando that he can’t smoke a cigar naked in the Cloud 9 Spa.

They have no credit cards and come to the guest services desk with bags……….yes literally bags ……..of money to leave on their Sail & Sign card.

But despite their lack of consideration to other guests and obviously it’s some not all that do this I still love the Russians and I love their devil-may-care attitude and the last few days have been so busy that I haven’t had time to mention some of their exploits here. We only have 600 comrades sailing but they have probably provided the vessel with a huge percentage of the onboard revenue.

Fancy a bottle of champagne for breakfast? The Russians do and it’s Dom Perignon and other expensive brands which has the Carnival Magic bar manager grinning from ear to ear. They buy a bottle of Vodka rather than just a glass and yes, we should tell them that putting their feet up on the tables in the Escape bar on deck 4 is not allowed but it’s not easy for a bar waitress from Indonesia to tell 10 ex-KGB operatives to get their bloody feet off the table.

You can also tell the women are from Russian before they even say “nostrovia.” Every night is elegant night and they either look absolutely stunning and have male heads turning 360 degrees like a ventriloquists dummy or they look like they should be standing in a window in Amsterdam.

Take the two ladies that pushed into the line on Lido. They were wearing diamond-studded sandals and massive amounts of obnoxious diamond and gold jewelry, as if being stuck in some weird Russian version of “The Sopranos.” Huge hulking men walk the ship during the day in the Cloud 9 Spa bathrobes followed by their girlfriends in sunglasses with huge sparkling hinges on them……. Bloody hell some of these ladies are drop dead gorgeous and one asked me to have her photo taken with her and I think……..I may have dribbled a bit. Yep, the Russians are here and they have brought a mix of fun, an annoying lack of consideration to others, loads of money and women with legs longer than the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Time for today’s Q and A……..shall we crack on?

Harry H from Denver Asked:
We are sailing on the Carnival ship Splendor and just discovered that the ship won’t be calling at Mazatlan as scheduled to do so. Why have you canceled this port? It is the ONLY reason I booked it and now when you cancel I am refused a total refund. This is ridiculous customer service. I see that you are the head of the cruise line service department and therefore I demand that this situation be corrected. Two days in Cabo Saint Lucas is not what I paid for.

John Says:
Hello Harry H from Denver

I can totally understand why this is such a disappointment but please understand that we announced this decision a few weeks ago in the interest of guest safety. We’re sure you’re going to have a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Splendor and while I cannot offer you a refund I can promise that if you allow yourself to …………….you will have the very best of times.

Best wishes

Jeanette Nuzzo Asked:
Please Reply John

Hope things are well with you. I do have a question. Next year in 2012 we were planning another Europe trip. I have noticed there is no ships out there then. Could you tell me will there be ships there and if no why?

John Says:
Hello Jeanette Nuzzo.

We have not yet released details about if or not we will be sailing in Europe next year but as our President Mr Cahill told the press “there is a big sodding possibility that we will.” OK, he didn’t say sodding but the clue is there Jeanette and all will be revealed in the next few days. Best wishes and hope to see you in 2012


Barrick Ryan Asked:
John, I had the pleasure of meeting you on board the Splendor, the week before the fire, I was dining with Renil in the Steakhouse and you were there with your family. I keep hearing that changes are coming to the Platinum people and maybe some more things in store for the Milestone cards, any news that you know of? Also I will be doing a B2B on the Magic on 9/16/11 – 9/25/11, it will be my 31st and 32nd cruise with Carnival, will you be on board at that time? Who will be the Hotel Director? The FDBM? The Bar Manager? Thanks for your help.


John Says:
Hello Barrick Ryan

I remember our meeting well and the whole wine story! It will be an honour to see you again and here is a list of the department heads for you.

Hotel Director – Donato Becce

Food and Beverage Manager – Ivaylo Hirstov

Bar Manager – Joan Flores

There are changes on one of the senior beards table regarding the Platinum and Milestone program although I have long since given up predicting when those changes will be forthcoming. It will be great to see you and if there is anything you need please let me know.

Best wishes

Chris Hamlisev Asked:
John, we just got back from the Conquest and wanted to tell you that it was our best cruise ever and the crew and the food were outstanding. The only negative was the two main shows with the dancers which were so boring. Point and Clicking was a joke and so outdated it was actually embarrassing for me and the audience and I bet it was for the dancers as well. Please, haven’t these dancing shows had their day? This was my 12th Carnival cruise and we have 2 more this year booked already but please, please change the shows. Do other bloggers agree with me if yes please speak up. Love the blog John, it always picks me up.


John Says:
Hello Chris Hamlisev

First of all thanks for your loyalty to Carnival, we truly appreciate it and I totally understand that dancing shows are not for everyone and certainly we need to freshen up some of the shows. This is something that we have been speaking about here on the ship this week with all the senior beards and I know that entertainment is a major priority to them now. I will also say that the addition of the Punchliner Comedy Club has been a roaring success and that is good news indeed. The shows will be changing, that much I can tell you. How quickly, I don’t know but I do know that it is now become a priority and in my humble opinion……….it’s about time. Point and Click was good in its day but I have to be honest…….it does need some updating and it’s on the list. We have a brilliant group of people in Miami who design the shows and people like Kerry and Preston and the team can continue to keep Carnival at the top of the cruise line entertainment ladder. I truly hope you had fun and thanks so much for the kind words about the Carnival Conquest crew which I will pass on.

Best wishes

Portland Bill Asked:
John, the blog is the highlight of my day. I remember reading once that you were writing a book and wondered if that is still on the cards, it would be a bestseller for sure.

John Says:
Hello Portland Bill

Thanks so much for the kind words and you are correct, I did mention that I may be writing a book and in fact started the first chapter. But now it sits in a draw along with other unwanted items like my other books called My Rhinestone G String and How to Speak French. To be honest I just do not have time and besides, I don’t even know how to get a book published.

Dolores Martinez Asked:
John, Your cruise line does nothing for Spanish speaking people even those that live in Miami like me and sail on your ship from Miami with most passengers from Miami. My parents are elderly and cruised on Valor and understood nothing at all and no entertainment or anything was in Spanish. The life boat meeting was not in Spanish so how was my parents supposed to know what to do. Yu have many people who speak Spanish from Miami and Puerto Rico and other places so you must have Spanish speaking things going on.

John Says:
Hello Dolores Martinez

This may sound rude Dolores and honestly I don’t mean it to but we will make announcements regarding the life boat drill if there is a large enough group from a foreign country (non US), be it Spanish speaking or any other large group. Your parents would have been part of the overall United States Citizens count and not specified as speaking no English. I sincerely apologise for this and hope they enjoyed the Latin trio on Carnival Valor and the wonderful service and fun.

Best wishes to you all

Kathleen T Asked:
Hi John

Can you tell me and the readers your intentions for 2012 as I want to book my cruises around your schedule.

Thanks so much

Your friend

John Says:
Hello Kathleen T

How very kind and I know that I am answering questions here from late March and so hopefully by now you will have seen that I have announced a Bloggers Cruise for March 4 on your Carnival Magic which I hope you can join me for. Outside of that I am not sure yet as to my 2012 schedule but I will let you all know as soon as I can. Best wishes and once again thanks for the very kind words


Mike Sanford Asked:


John Says:
Hello Mike Sanford

It’s great that so many people love Wee Jimmy and he will indeed be your CD when you cruise next week on the Carnival Legend. The ship sails under the Skyway Bridge approx 90 minutes after sailing and is quite a sight to see. Wee Jimmy should make an announcement to let the guests know. I hope you have a wonderful time.

Best wishes

Lezlee Asked:
Hi John – I posted this question on FB the other day but the people that don’t like Cruise Critic blasted me. I don’t know how you handle some of those posts…….it made me mad and hurt my feelings at the same time and about made me cry!! In any event, I don’t think you saw the post and I didn’t want to post it again in fear of inciting another riot!!

We have a group of about 100 people that need to meet on the first day of our Magic sailing on June 3 at 2pm for about an hour or so. We want to be done before your 3:30 welcome show.

Is the RedFrog Pub open on Embarkation days? We don’t want to overwhelm the crew when we all show up wanting drinks in one place at the same time! Would it be best for us to have a designated place to meet? If so, can you arrange that and allow us to have a couple of waiters?

We’re really enjoying your Magic updates and photos. Please keep them coming and thanks so much for all you do for all of us.

Lezlee Welch

John Says:
Hello Lezlee Welch

I was so sad when I saw this and tried to remember what the post was that caused you to be upset but I can’t. Let’s move on shall we and instead let me tell you that I have placed in the Carnival Capers a meet…….oh bugger…..the Fun Times a meet and greet in the RedFrog Pub as requested which I will make sure is open for you and the CC group. I am so sorry you were upset and I will be here to welcome you all. I have put 2:30pm – 3:30pm if that’s OK.

See you soon and best wishes

That’s all for today and I will return with more tomorrow and will be on Facebook as well of course. You may have noticed a different kind of question list above. That’s because Eric and the beards are all here and we pulled questions from the new format blog which debuted a few weeks ago. I will revert to answering the longer questions and posting the longer reviews next week. There will be though more Q and A tomorrow.

Let’s take a break and show you some photos that show much better than I can ever describe just what having fun on your Carnival Magic is all about. Have a look at these

So today we are in Dubrovnik and it’s rather a grey and wet day which is such a shame for everyone. But as I sit here in my underpants at 11:55 am we only have 709 guests onboard which means most are ashore despite the weather. It was a busy day for the entertainment staff as all port day mornings are. When we first went to Europe on the Carnival Liberty we spent the first few weeks of that season apologising over and over again to guests for the awful tour dispatch system we had where guests would just wander onto the pier to try and find their tour which when in ports like Naples and Livorno meant 1,000 plus at any one time would be there and it was…..chaos.

And so we ……..well I see we I mean Heidi and the Shore Excursion Manager Wayne came up with the stickering system we use today here on your Carnival Magic. Guests come to the lounge, we give them a sticker with a number on it and then they take a seat. When the tour operator has the coach ready the staff lead them down to the pier and straight onto the bus. The bus has a sign in the front window with the Carnival logo and a number…….the same number of the guest’s sticker which means they always know they are getting on the bus.

Here are some great Dubrovnik photos from our friend Radu.

Today in Dubrovnik 1,600 guests are on an excursion and most are on the Best of Dubrovnik tour which does exactly what the title suggests and shows you the best that this town has to offer. The magnificent Adriatic port has awe inspiring architecture and apart from today of course because it’s Murphy’s Law that something would happen on our inaugural cruise. It’s one of the most beautiful and sunniest spots in Europe. It’s easy to forget the hell this town went through and the best way to appreciate this and its beauty is to take the excursion with the addition of the Ramparts walk and from up high our guests can appreciate the old and new terracotta roofs that show the scale of the damage inflicted by the Serb bombardment in the 1990s.

New this season is our Dubrovnik from Above tour which gives the guests incredible views as the new cable car whisks you up Mount Srd. From the top you can see up to 60km along the Croatian coastline and I am sure many photos will be taken from up there of the ship as well, it’s just a shame it’s so grey.

Yep, Dubrovnik is a fascinating city and one of my favourite ports of calls of all time. It never ceases to amaze me that as I sit looking out of my cabin window that just a decade ago this very place where the Carnival Magic is docked was pounded by Serb artillery. That was then and this is now and even in the rain Dubrovnik today is more splendid than ever before.

Cruising in Europe has its absolute joys and its unexpected moments as well because you are dealing with countries rather than islands as in the Caribbean. And whereas many of the islands we sail to are dependent on cruise ship tourism, a country like Italy certainly is not and that means you always have to expect the unexpected. Have a look at the email received yesterday.

Sent: Monday, May 02, 2011 1:20 PM
Subject: **URGENT** Strike at Pompeii Excavations on May, 6th – 08.30am/10.30am
Importance: High

Good morning All,

With reference to your call at Naples on May, 6th, please note that we have just been advised about a strike that most probably will be taking place at Pompeii excavations from 08.30am to 10.30am. Of course, being a strike, it is impossible to get detailed information as the strikes may change their mind also at the very last minute. In any case we will keep you informed as soon as we get some news about this strike.

The only tours that will be effected from the strike, will be the Ruins of Pompeii tours Half day (Tour 816-001 am & pm departures).

For this reason we need to change the tour departures as follows:

Tour 816-001 Ruins of Pompeii AM: departure at 09.30 AM

Tour 816-001 Ruins of Pompeii PM: departure at 02.30 PM

(We need to delay the afternoon departure as we use the same buses/guides of Pompeii tour in the morning)

So as of this moment with three days to go before we get to Naples we have 1,800 guests booked to visit the extraordinary site of Pompeii. If that strike goes ahead and thanks to the contacts our tour operator Aloschi Brothers have in Naples we will be able to get around the problem but guests on independent tours that have booked specific times to the site may not be so lucky. Let’s hope the strike is called off but in Italy you never know what’s around the corner.

And of course we are dealing with the world of European flights and the wonders that this brings. Here was my second piece of good sodding news today

Sent: Tuesday, May 03, 2011 3:07 PM
Subject: Above & Across Dubrovnik – Cable Car Service Closed

Good Afternoon All,

Please be advised that due to strong wind cable car service on Above & Across Dubrovnik tour was stopped for the day. Additional panoramic stops by bus were added on the tour and refreshments were provided at the Old City of Dubrovnik.

Please note that all guests on 2nd departure of this tour (1:00 pm) were informed about the same at Showtime Theatre before the departure and they agreed / accepted the changes.


Assistant Shore Excursion Manager, Carnival Magic


We will be refunding part of the excursion and I am sure that most of the guests will understand ……………I hope. I will let you know if I am right or wrong tomorrow.

And they say bad news comes in threes……..well they are right as here’s an email regarding one of our entertainers who was expected to arrive in Dubrovnik today.

Virginia (CCL)
Sent: Tuesday, May 03, 2011 4:21 PM
Subject: RE: Travel Reservation May 03 for GORONWY THOM
Importance: High

Hello John.

I just received the email below from his Agent. His flight into Vienna was re-routed and delayed due to weather, which caused him to miss his connection. There are no other flights from Vienna that will get him to Dubrovnik in time. I’m waiting to hear back from the Agent to see if he can join in Messina instead. I’ll advise once I hear back from the Agent.


Entertainment Supervisor

Bugger and double bugger. Well since that email I have discovered that Gronway, who was handpicked by me to perform this cruise, cannot make it into Messina as he has another obligation and so my friend and agent Jonathan Blackburn is looking for another high caliber act to replace him. I am very disappointed and I know it can’t be helped but Gronway is so good and I am very disappointed he won’t be performing his high energy and very, very funny comedy juggling act for our guests. I will let you know what happens next.

I had no idea yesterday that around the corner was a massive bollocking for me from one of the guests. I mentioned this on Facebook yesterday and over 450 of you replied which shows it was a subject worthy of discussion. So there I was in the Showtime Theatre with a 1,000 people gathered to hear me talk about the first three ports of call. Now we have been having start up problems with our TV system and coverage has been limited and so I thought that I would mention that the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, had been shot and killed by United States Special Forces. And that’s exactly what I said……there were no jokes, no glorification, no editorializing, just the simple fact. And moments after saying this most of the 1,000 guests stood up and cheered.

An hour or so after the talk had finished I discovered a guest had complained about me and the statement I had made. I have to admit I was astonished by this and later that night when I met the guest I was even more astonished at just how upset the guest was. Their finger wagged in my face and the guest was shouting loud enough to draw a small crowd in the lobby. I think its best that I don’t explain why he was so upset because it would just lead to a fierce backlash here on the blog so I will just say that I apologised as much as I could that I had upset him but no avail. Two days into the inaugural voyage…….and a guest has nothing but contempt for me. Not good John, not good.

It is though once again proof positive that while 999 people will stand and applaud something one is always going to be upset. But that’s nothing. I only hope I don’t upset a Russian guest because they look so sinister with their Special Forces tattoos. You get the impression when they look at you that they’re imagining what you would look like with no head. So I will let them push in the line at the salad bar and if they want to smoke naked in the sauna they can go right ahead……..this will make sure that while walking down Promenade Deck I don’t end up being stabbed with the poisonous tip of an umbrella.

Спокойной ночи

Your друг

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.