You know, sometimes we do things even though we know we shouldn’t and that that they will come back to bite us in the arse like a rabid pit bull terrier. But why do we do these things? I mean you don’t see cocker spaniels bollocked online for smoking cigars or diabetic hamsters chowing down two huge portions of Jamaican chicken wings in the RedFrog Pub…… You don’t see pigeons in St. Mark’s Square ignoring non-organic seeds or a yak at Saks buying something it knows it can’t afford……yep the animal kingdom is smart……………I am not.

Let me explain and I will build up to my point by sharing some of the wrong decisions I have made today. First of all I had a cigar last night even though I know I should stop smoking and that when I got into bed with Heidi she would accuse me of stinking of smoke and would try to get Kye to say the same even though all she can say is “Mama,” “Dada” and “poo.”

Then this morning when we arrived in Messina, my Raspberry alarm went off at 7 am and I hit the snooze button even though I knew full well that I had to get up and blog this morning or I wouldn’t be finished until very late and that would mean Vance and Everett the Beard would be waiting to post the blog thingy and that would make them very, very mad. Vance turns green and bursts out of his clothes when I do this.

Once I had dragged my arse out of bed and removed the shower curtain which for some reason always gets lodged up my arse, I went to the Coffee Shop on Promenade Deck and had a cup of coffee, which I know will make my teeth all brown and then I skipped breakfast even though I know I should eat something to accompany my diabetic pill. I then made an announcement to the guests at 9 am saying the weather forecast said it we expect a sunny day in Messina forgetting on purpose to mention that it had said 30% possibility of showers.

Once I had returned to the cabin, I should have started my blog immediately but I didn’t because Kye was there with her big brown eyes begging me to play with her so I did. I had promised Heidi I would look after Kye while some poor spa bugger scraped dead skin of my wife’s feet even though I couldn’t really afford the time away from the keyboard. And then it was lunchtime and even though I am already a fat bastard and already knowing it would make my white underpants less so……I had a burrito.

Then I looked at my watch and realized I had to press on that would be the watch I bought even though I knew I couldn’t afford it yet.

And during BC4 in March on the Carnival Glory I did something that I knew I would put me in the crapper………….and today I was proved absolutely right. Here’s why:

K.T and John Asked:
John, please reply

We were with you for the bloggers cruise on the Glory and we won’t be coming on the  next one should you decide to have one John. That’s because although we had a nice time  the obvious favoritism you showed to other bloggers was a disgrace. We ate dinner in the  same dining room you did and watched as different bloggers ate there each night yet we  were never invited. I think it’s because you hate people on Cruise Critic or something but  we felt embarrassed each night at dinner that we were not looked upon as good enough to come to your table. You made us both very upset and I wanted you to know this.

K.T. and John

John Says:
Hello K.T and John

I am so very sorry that you feel this way and it makes me very sad to think that that you  left the bloggers cruise so upset. I had 300 plus bloggers on that cruise and in a moment I will explain my process and my feelings. But I wanted to make sure you know that I am  so very sorry and that I hope you will reconsider joining us again on BC5 which will be  held on your Carnival Magic on March 4. Best wishes to you both

John

So there you go. Deciding who should have the privilege of watching me chomp my way through dinner was based on who I had known the longest, milestone guests (25 cruises or more) and those that had done all of the Bloggers Cruises. But as I sat choosing who should join me the little voice in my mind told me “Don’t do it, you stupid sod” but I ignored it. And so on BC5 I won’t host a table. I shall eat on Lido Deck and that way I can’t get myself in the doghouse again. Oh and respectfully……….this “I hate Cruise Critic” thing is getting old and boring. I don’t hate anyone on Cruise Critic. The end.

So let’s do some Q and A shall we………….off we go.

Lynn and Robert Asked:
John Please Reply

My son and I were on the Splendor during the fire and I just now discovered your blog and read the reports about the incident which had me both laughing and crying as the memories resurfaced. John you were so calm and so assuring and I just wanted to say those words on a public forum like this blog of yours. My son lost his pop a year ago and I lost my husband of 39 years which is why were on the Splendor. We were supposed to be with Harold my husband but he passed and we were going to scatter his ashes on the cruise he was supposed to be on but obviously we never did because of what happened. We are using our free cruise that carnival gave us to go on the Splendor on May 8th and wondered if you could please help me arrange something to help make this happen. I read in your blog today where you helped Marco scatter his Father’s ashes and I hope you can do the same for me and my son. We are in cabin 6309 and wish you were with us John. Thank you for all you did, you were our rock during the crisis.

Lynn and Robert

John Says:
Hello Lynn and Robert

Thank you for those kind words and I am truly honoured by them. The crew was the real heroes as were you, your son and all the other guests who faced difficult conditions calmly and with great spirit. I was so sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved husband and Robert’s father and I will of course make sure that all is arranged. I am so glad I saw this now as I see you are sailing on Sunday and when you board you will find a letter in your stateroom advising you on what’s going to happen. I promise the staff there will do all they can to help you and you can also expect a little gift from me as a thank you for being so brave during the fire. My thoughts are with you both and I hope that this time you have calm seas and in between the memories of your many happy years with Harold that you will find time for some relaxation and fun.

Best wishes to you both
John

Steve De Jong Asked:
John – reply

Why are you lying to us!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is no intention you said of bringing back the fuel surcharge yet I have it on good authority that it has already been decided. USA Today, Cruise Critic and the Boston Herald all have said it so why lie. Carnival will be the first to bring this back because of pure greed and you should be man enough to admit that and not lie to the pathetic herd that suckle on your bosom believing every word you say. My wife and me will be on the Sensation in May and already expect to have to be paying your greed/fuel surcharge

John Says:
Hello Steve De Jong

I see that you posted this on March 27 and, as you know by now, we have not introduced a fuel supplement. In fact, I was not going to answer this question at all but the only reason I decided was firstly to wish you a great cruise on the Carnival Sensation and, secondly, to say that your words “suckle on your bosom” were absolutely brilliant and had me laughing out loud. I now have a picture in my mind of the bloggers with their lips clamped onto my nipples….and those are words that I never thought I would write on the blog thingy so thanks mate and once again have a brilliant time.

Best wishes
John

Karen Cottingham Asked:
Hi John,

We are sailing on the Carnival Magic next February. This is my first cruise in 3 years due to treatment for thyroid cancer. I am now cancer free and so excited to cruise Carnival again!

My question is what side of the ship is smoking going to be allowed? I know this is a hot button issue. I also want to thank you for making me laugh on days when that what not so easy.

John Says:
Hello Karen Cottingham

First of all many congratulations on your freedom from cancer and may I wish you nothing but health and happiness in the future. May I also wish you a very happy cruise here on your Carnival Magic of which the port side (left side facing forward) is where we allow smoking. The starboard (right hand side facing forward) is strictly non smoking as is most of the vessel.

Please let me know if you have any other questions

Best wishes
John

Mary (Mrs. Shy) Asked:
Hi John,

Not on Facebook so can’t comment there are singing/dancing in MDR. Why not just have the entertainment on the lower level and the guests who do not want the entertainment can be seated in the upper level. Of course, this would have to be requested at time of booking. Right now with YTD on the upper level of the 1 dining room, we who like the entertainment have to sit by the railing to see down for it. If those who do not want the entertainment are seated upstairs around the outer edges, they will not see the dancing and only hear the music in the background

John Says:
Hello Mary (Mrs. Shy)

It was interesting that on the Facebook poll most of the replies were in favour of keeping the entertainment. I know that there are some spots on the upper levels where views of what’s going on are not the best but at the moment the desire to keep the shows in the dining room are too many to cancel them completely from the upper level. I hope you are well Mrs. Shy. Will I see you on BC5?

Best wishes
John

Brad & Susan Burks Asked:
**Please reply**

Hi John,

We will be on the 6/3 Magic sailing.  We will have 3 kids with us – ages 11,11,7.  They are excited about the ropes course.  Will there be any age/height/weight restrictions?  They are zip line pros and used to being harnessed, but just wanted to see about the ropes course so we can prepare them accordingly before getting on the ship.  Look forward to meeting you! Keep the photos and updates coming?  Thanks!

John Says:
Hello Brad and Susan Burks

We actually go by height restrictions rather than age and this all has to do with the harness they wear/ the height restriction is 48 inches so I have a feeling that your kids will be fine to enjoy this thrilling event. I look forward to meeting you all as well and see you soon. Best wishes to you all

John

ManDan Asked:
John,

Just finished our cruise on the Fascination and wondered why with a mostly black passenger demographic there was not one African American entertainer?

John Says:
Hello ManDan

First of all I hope you had a great time on the Carnival Fascination. We don’t hire our entertainers based on anything but talent.  Our entertainers come from all backgrounds and nationalities and we hope that they are able to entertain our diverse group of guests. I hope you enjoyed the shows and if you have a follow up question or need anything else please let me know.

Best wishes
John

Mark Ryder Asked:
Hi John,

I understand that it could take a while for an answer. You are quite busy with the Magic coming online. I and many others would really like some clarification about Early Saver OBC generated from fare reductions after final payment. Mainly, is any leftover ES OBC refunded at the end of the cruise or does it just go #pffft#? The small print clearly states it is non-refundable but many others say it still gets reimbursed anyway and is even usable in the casino. Most confusingly a Carnival rep recently replied to a CC member that it IS refunded. Anyway, is it possible to put this question to rest once and for all? I’d guess you have access to someone who can answer this definitively. Thank you for your time, and if this has been answered 20 times before, I really apologize. I’ve tried to find a definite answer and keep going in circles. Thanks, and I’m looking forward to our June 12 Magic cruise!(With lots of OBC)

Cheers,
Mark

John Says:
Hello Mark Ryder

I am always the first to admit that my understanding of the Early Saver scheme is the same as a chap from Paris understanding of Bath and Body Works. I asked someone who does know and the simple answer is “The Early Saver OBC is non-refundable. Since it is applied to their Sail and Sign they can use it however they want but it isn’t refunded at the end of the cruise.” So I guess that means you have to use it or you will lose it. Does that explain this Mark………let me know if not and I will have someone better than I contact you. Thanks for the kind words and sorry it took so long to answer you.

Best wishes
John

CW Tully Asked:
Message

My partner and I will be sailing with a prayer group on the Valor on Sunday June 12th. I am the group leader of 34 people and we would like permission to host an open air evangelist and testimony prayer meeting on the Lido deck each morning at 9 am. We were allowed to do this on the Norwegian Pearl boat and found that the passengers really appreciated it. My travel agent suggested I ask you as apparently you are able to approve anything. We will have a small 7 piece band and also do a wonderful timbrel display as well and it will last only 30 minutes.  Please can you give me permission?

Here are our details

Thanks so much and God Bless You
CW Tully

John Says:
Hello CW Tully

I wanted to start by just letting you know I removed the names and booking details of your group in case you wondered where they had gone as posting personal details like booking numbers is not what we like to do. I am happy to allow you to have your meetings but I am sorry I can’t allow it on Lido Deck. I will though work with the ship on booking a lounge for you each morning and I can add something to the Fun Times which is our daily program inviting guests to attend. Thanks so much for the kind words and I send my best wishes to you and your group for a wonderful cruise.

John

Connie Manrique Asked:

After BC4 I realized that I’ve sailed with the same captain for my last 3 cruises. So, since you/Carnival is starting to publish all these different schedules I was wondering if it would be possible to post the ship captains’ schedules, too.  I appreciated what Capt. Rassello (I think that’s his name) on BC4 did to avoid bad weather.  On the Carnival Splendor in Oct 2009 he was able to do the same thing to avoid Hurricane Ricky coming in off the Pacific.  I truly appreciated that.

Thanks so much.
Connie

John Says:
Hello Connie.

Yes, absolutely I can and I will work on this shortly with the beards. I am not surprised you like Captain Rassello, he is a wonderful man and a man whom the ladies seem to think is good looking, not sure why. He is also one of that captains who loves to be around the guests. Most of our captains do enjoy mingling with others on board, although not all of them but don’t get me started on that. I will indeed work on the posting the schedule for you.

Best wishes
John

Donna Cravens Asked:

I need to know on the Carnival Elation – which deck has the gangplank that lets people on and off – that is the deck my senior customer wants to be on please reply as ap. thank you!!!

John Says:
Hello Donna Cravens

If we are talking about the embarkation port of Mobile, it’s on deck 3, Donna. But if you are talking about the ports of call then its deck 0 that is used. If there are mobility issues please let me know and I will try and help answer them.

Best wishes
John

Victor Amiobi Asked:

Thanks for nothing. All that talk about helping people and for my anniversary you sent me a bottle of cheaper than cheap champagne and a plastic toy. It’s back to Royal Caribbean for us where on your anniversary you get free upgrades and a $50 on board credit.

John Says:
Hello Victor Amiobi

I am sorry you didn’t like your Trophy and champagne that you Received. I get lots of requests to send things and based On those requests I do my best to Lavish people with what I can. I hope you had Lots of fun on the cruise and a happy anniversary.

Best wishes
John

That’s all for today. I will be back with more soon and next week when Eric the Beard returns we will be back with the reviews and longer questions.

Things here are slowly settling into a routine both with the guests, the crew and with Heidi and Kye. It’s now 11:05 am as I write to you in my office and yes, in my underpants. We are in Messina today and the internet weather forecast said it was going to be sunny. So that means of course it’s not. It’s cloudy. It’s dry but there is bugger all sun. We have half the ship on an excursion today and most are heading to Taormina on organised tours from the Carnival Magic including the Taormina On Your Own excursion which is a brief guided tour of this stunning village followed by 5 hours “on your own” to explore the Greek Theatre and to nibble a cannoli or two. Those not on a tour are as we speak trying to get one of the taxi drivers to come down in price from the 120 Euros they charge to get to Taormina and some of the guests will pay it feeling that if they don’t they may be “swimming with the fishes” by the end of the day.

My advice has always been that if you want to see Taormina to take a tour from the ship and avoid the stress that is waiting for you if not. Tonight everyone is looking forward to passing by the volcanic island of Stromboli and at approx 8:45pm Captain Cutugno will navigate your Carnival Magic as close to it as possible. Its tufts of smoke make glorious viewing from the ship and hopefully it will be feeling very naughty and our guests will see bursts of red lava shooting from the crater……..I have asked Radu to take some photos and if it does have one of its many mini eruptions Radu will be there to capture it and I will post his photos here and on Facebook. My only concern is that unlike previous seasons and indeed on future voyages this year, today we leave at 6 pm which as I said puts us at Stromboli at 8:45pm…….in the middle of second sitting dinner. I intend to make an announcement to suggest guests dine at Cucina del Capitano tonight so they don’t miss Stromboli.

As the days go on we are as I mentioned would happen a few blogs ago, discovering some minor problems that only happen when the ship has her guests onboard. Yesterday for example we had a steam pipe burst in the spa which meant that for a few hours we had no hot water in the Thalassotherapy pool and the spa steam and sauna rooms and whirlpools. It didn’t affect the cabins but it did mean that on a busy sea day morning these areas were not useable and it wasn’t until just after 11 am that it was fixed.

Now we also have the new big bucket thingy at the water park. I know there is an official name for this and as I sit here for the life of me I can’t remember what that branded name is but I do know that my suggestion of calling it the Magic Dump Bucket was refused by the high visibility jacket wearing, politically correct beards. Anyway, the big bucket thingy is a huge hit and all day yesterday at sea, even though it wasn’t that warm outside, loads of people stood under the thing waiting for gallons of water to come cascading down onto them. It is certainly loads of fun. The problem though is this. Before the gigantic bucket is emptied a loud bell rings warning the people below they are about to get drenched. While the bell ringing is an appropriate and necessary warning it is apparently getting on the nerves of the guests on Serenity deck which is at the same level as the bucket. I must have had half a dozen comments about this so far including one from bloggers Michelle and David who said that even through the headphones of their Eye Phone. I am not sure what the answer is to this as we have to have a warning that the water is coming but…it’s loud, very loud and I’m asking if we can turn the alarm bell down a bit.

What has surprised me is the rope swing on the SkyCourse. I honestly never expected too many people would want to swing from a bit of string during the cruise but I was wrong…..very wrong. Yesterday was a sea day and we had over 200 people use the course and many, many more use the weights and gym equipment, the mini golf course, the foosball table and more. Overall the usage of the open deck spaces here on this ship are fabulous and many guests have told me the same. And for me these open deck areas have been further improved by the so very, very comfortable seating that can be found all over the open decks, the ones on deck 11 forward complete with cushions and foot stools are so inviting.

But it looks like RedFrog Pub is the place that’s getting all the hype from guests. Last night during the Captain’s Celebration I spoke to many guests all of whom spoke of their love for the RedFrog, the food and the ambience. As you know we had run out of ThirstyFrog Red beer and no bugger had told me and I had promoted it and thus looked like a total plonker……..google plonker ………it’s a great word and describes absolutely how I felt. Anyway, the ThirsyFrog is back as I just saw this email.

From: Gustavo (CCL)
Sent: Thursday, May 05, 2011 06:08 AM
To: Heald, John (CCL)
Subject: The frog is back!

We received 8 kegs of TFG red. Expecting 16 in Rome and 22 in Barcelona.

And so to hopefully the sight of an erupting volcano, guests will once again be able to enjoy the taste of ThirstyFrog. By the way, not sure if I mention this but I had the Jamaican wings yesterday, two portions in fact…………..they were absolutely brilliant.

By the way, last night’s highlight was the performance of Karen Grainger. She is one woman with a many voices and is quite simply one of the very best acts I have ever seen at sea or on land. If you ever see her name in the Fun Times or on a Las Vegas billboard, drop everything and go and see her.

Have a look at a few highlights of her show here: http://www.karengrainger.com/biopage.htm…………………her Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald duet in which she sings both parts had the audience at both shows giving her a massive standing ovation. Karen Grainger is a proper star.

OK, it’s nearly time for me to go because I have to have coffee with a man I don’t like. He thinks I like him but I don’t. He works for Carnival (sort of) and he thinks I am his friend because I have never been able to tell him that he is annoying and that he never paid me back the $200 I loaned him 5 years ago when we were together on the Carnival Liberty. Breaking up with a mate is actually harder to do than with a girlfriend. You see, with a mate, you can’t have that usual conversation about it “not being you” or “we can still be friends.” That simply cannot happen when it comes to men. Women however dump friends all the time. Male bloggers, how many times in your life have you come home to find your wife having a glass of wine with a woman she had called a “total bitch” just a week ago?

If men don’t want to be friends with a man any more they just ignore them although I have never been very good at this in life or on the blog. By rights we should all ignore people who are constant complainers but I can never seem to be brave enough to do so. We have a constant complainer sailing with us this cruise. She has been through her usual comments on silk sheets and air conditioning, comments she has made on every cruise she has been on with us and here is her latest from today.

Ref 848020197
Cabin: —— Booking#: ———- Added-Changed: 05/04/11 – 05/04/11

WAITER IS RUDE
Mrs_______came to the GSD and demanded her table be changed because her waiter is  rude to her. Please note as per ref ____________ this is Mrs_______third request for a  different waiter and her eighth comment on the incident report log. Maitre D informed

We are now much better at recognizing serial complainers and while we will listen and be polite, we are not going to change her waiter again and her cabin will I promise be devoid of any fruit!

Do you remember the chap who was angry at me for announcing that Osama Bin Bastard was dead? Well, just in case you don’t know or don’t care what I am talking about let me quickly refresh your memory. On Monday at my travel talk I announced that he had been shot and killed by US Special Forces. It was a factual statement with no editorializing or sensationalism.

I made the announcement because our TV reception was as spotty as a leopard with measles and as I announced it, hundreds of guests rose to their feet and applauded. One man in the front was so happy he did a little dance. Later that day I met with one guest who was not in the mood for dancing and he showered his anger on me and showered bits of spit on me as well as he screamed. He felt it was not appropriate and accused me of all sorts of things. I apologised which he refused to accept and left our meeting probably praying that a thousand scorpions would infest my underpants.

Anyway, it’s been a heck of a busy first cruise and so by last night I had mostly forgotten all about this meeting until I went to the late show at the Punchliner Comedy Club and right as I walked in one of the comedians was doing a routine about Osama which, before I forget to mention, was admirable in the sense that the comedian was using new material based on current events. His line about how Osama would hopefully instead of being met by a hundred virgins be met by a hundred vegans was very funny. The audience thought so as well as the eclectic group of international Carnival Magic guests laughed out loud. But I was immediately on the defensive, scanning the room for my friend knowing that if this guest was here that we would be heading for round two and me and the tip of his finger would once again become best mates. Luckily he wasn’t in the comedy club and I breathed a sigh of relief.

However, this got me thinking. How soon is too soon to joke about the violent death of a fellow human being even if he was the world’s most wanted man and a total murdering bastard? Is this humour and subsequent laughter some kind or release from the fact that we’ve been after him for almost 10 years? Since my bollocking from the guest found myself reading as much as I can on the internet about what happened and some of the stories are extraordinary. Did you see the one from the shopkeeper who told the press that Osama Bin Bastard and his family liked to drink Coca Cola? I wonder how his band of followers feel learning that the man who told them to rail against the evils of the West relaxed with a Coke Zero and probably a Big Mac?

Often when a high profile famous person dies, it seems like the internet is immediately alive with jokes. Michael Jackson was the prime example and like most of you, I deleted them immediately. But with Osama it’s different, certainly if last night’s Punchliner Comedy Club show is anything to go by. His death is giving closure to those whose lives he changed forever on 9/11. While I feel sad that one guest on this ship really and truly hates me, I saw at last night’s show (not to mention the seemingly endless jokes by the late-talk show hosts) that there is a relief in laughing at these types of situations. I haven’t made any jokes on stage myself and have no intention of doing so…… although it’s hard for me not to mention the good news about Osama being buried at sea……..is that he has taken his first bath in ten years.

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.