The Season Premier

May 9, 2011 -

John Heald

So, what can we do better? I ask this question because in a moment I will be talking about all the great things that this new ship of yours has to offer and so as always I want to mention the good, the brilliant, and the things we can improve on. Actually there isn’t much. It’s little things really but none the less I should mention them.

This was bad planning on our part, or should I say my part as I take full responsibility because I have lots of experience in Europe. We sailed at 5:30 pm yet we had the main sitting dinner at 6 pm as usual and we (I) didn’t take into account that everyone would want to see the sail out from Venice. This meant that the dining room had a huge rush of guests at 6:45pm after the sail away and this meant that the late sitting dinner opened late as well. Plus the YTD guests all came at the same time……… wasn’t pretty. I did lots of apologising as did Maitre D’s Ken and Kris and we won’t make this mistake again I promise.

As you know, during each ship’s construction a special coin is welded to the mast that marks the start of the ship’s life. I know that many guests enjoy looking for these coins and with that in mind I need to mention the gift we gave the guests on this cruise. Now I have to say that this is again my fault because it was me who pressed hard with the beards to give the guests on this cruise a gift to remember this occasion by. And finally after many years of me asking the beards said yes and they came up with the fantastic idea of giving them a replica of the coin in a special presentation package. And so the housekeeping staff placed one per cabin and it was only moments before they did that we spotted a bit of an “ooops.”

Here is the coin which is fantastic:

Carnival Magic Inaugural Coin

Here is the “oops” ……..can you spot it?

Carnival Magic Inaugural Coin

Yep, it says “inaugural cruise from Galveston”. We have two versions of the coin packages on board – one for the Venice inaugural and one for Galveston but somehow a number of the ones with the reference to Galveston were handed out during this cruise. Not sure how or why this happened but for the most part people seemed happy with the extraordinarily special gift and that is the most important thing of course.

This just wasn’t ready. It’s that simple. It was nobody’s fault, it was just technical stuff that unless you are Professor Stephen Hawking or you have a beard, you won’t understand. Regardless, TVs were having sync problems and that meant I couldn’t do my Morning Shows which really upset me as I feel (maybe selfishly) that they are an important part of the sea days. Everything is working fine now and I will be able to start the shows next cruise……..but for the guests on now, it’s too late.

That aside there really wasn’t’ too much to report on the “what went wrong” side. Yes, we had a lady think her husband had gone missing and called the bridge forcing the captain to turn the ship around and forcing me to walk to the bridge in my underpants to disturb the guests. And just as the captain had started the pin point search parameter and just as the spotlights were shining on the Mediterranean and just as I was about to make an announcement the chief security reported that her husband wasn’t missing but was instead trying to decide if he should split a pair of 10s in the casino.

And so I apologised over the PA system to the guests who had been woken by the ship’s engines and thrusters and the sight of high intensity searchlight bouncing around on the sea and invited everyone to go back to sleep. What I really wanted to say was that the original phone call to the bridge had been sponsored by Jack Daniels………but I didn’t.

And so I went back to the cabin to go to sleep but I couldn’t because Kye had woken up and now wanted me to watch a DVD with her. So instead of returning my beautiful dream of a naked Latvian washing my Aston Martin before washing me, I spent the next hour watching La La, Titsy, Ho and Stinky Pinky.

I eventually got to sleep around 2am and was woken by the thrusters again at 6:30am. It’s funny but as soon as I felt them on at the force they were I knew things were not good and sure enough a few minutes later the phone rang and that was me and my underpants back on the bridge again and I was right, it wasn’t good news. The port of Monaco was closed and that meant we were spending the day at sea. I informed the guests straight away, we refunded many thousands of dollars worth of excursions and sent this letter to all the guests.

May 9, 2011

Greetings from the bridge,

We hope you have enjoyed your cruise so far aboard the brand new Carnival Magic. We just need a moment of your time to share with you some information regarding a change to our scheduled itinerary.

We’re sorry to say that due to strong winds, the port authority in Monaco has closed the port. Therefore, we are forced to cancel our call into Monaco today. We will proceed directly to Barcelona for our scheduled arrival tomorrow.

We know how much you were looking forward to your time ashore today and regret this sudden turn of events. Unfortunately, there are no other viable port alternatives for us.

Shore Excursions purchased for Monaco will be automatically refunded to your Sail & Sign account. Additionally, we are posting a $13.65 per person credit to reflect a refund of the government fees and taxes for Monaco.

We are sorry Mother Nature didn’t cooperate with us today and thank you for your understanding.

Please continue to enjoy all the great entertainment and fun activities our staff has in store for you. My officers, staff, and crew are dedicated to making the remainder of your cruise fun and memorable.


Captain Giovanni Cutugno

We repeated the announcement and translated the letter for our Russian guests and of course as always most of the guests were absolutely understanding but as always there were one or two who were not and we all did our best to help them understand. There was one lady who was very, very happy we missed Monaco because after her phone call to the bridge last night she probably would have been enjoying an extended stay there.

And on that note we will take a break and I will answer some of your Q and A……..let’s crack on.

Murray Jackmann Asked:
John, Respond Immediately As This Is URGENT!!!

To my question; we are sailing on the Carnival Valor on May 22nd and as you are so far behind with your questions I am giving you plenty of time to reply!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have a few questions, 1) we want a table for two. Why when making reservations for the cruise can’t we request a table for two, four, eight and so on like RCCL allows their customers to? 2) We want to make reservations for the Steakhouse and have made a decision to eat there on Wednesday May 25th so we will need a table for two by the window. Which ruins are best? I called carnival’s 1-800 help line but they were the opposite of help so what is it? Chacchoben Mayan Ruins, Kohunlich Mayan Ruins, Altun Ha?

We will be in cabin 1431.


John Says:
Hello Murray Jackman,

I am indeed a long way behind on my questions here on the blog but I am glad I saw yours today as you sail soon……I am not sure how RCI does things with regard to dinner reservations but I am told by the maitre d’s here on the Carnival Magic that it is impossible to every single guests specific table size reservation. The fact that I try to help as many people as I do here and on Facebook is a little extra I offer to the readers but to offer this to each guest on ever ship every cruise is just not possible. Anyway, I have asked the maitre d to assist you with your table for 2 request and although most guests book their steakhouse reservations online or onboard I have also asked the ship to reserve you a table on the date you mentioned. I would recommend Kohunlich Mayan Ruins if you don’t mind the 7 hour duration. It is an amazing site when you pass through the rain forest into this huge clearing to see the ruins. I highly recommend this excursion to you. I hope you have a wonderful cruise

Best wishes


Dee Cruise Asked:
John Please reply,

What a fantastic time we had on the Splendor and I just had to write and tell you about our room steward Romeo who was the best we have had in our 7 cruises. What made him extra special was that he found out that my DH loved the chocolate mints and on the last night of the cruise he spelt his name Ron out on the bed in chocolate mints. He made our cruise so special and we wanted to write about him in the comment card but we never got one on the ship or by e mail. John please can you tell him how much we loved him and also mention it to his line manager as well.

Thank you John and we love you too.

John Says:
Hello Dee Cruiser,

That’s a great story and yes of course I will make sure Romeo’s mangers get to see these wonderful words and of course that Romeo gets to see these words as well Juliett …….. bugger …….. I mean Dee. Thanks so much for writing and best wishes to you and Ron.


Kelly Whetstine Asked:

I have a question to ask you. It may be right up there with one of your strangest. (if it is, do I win a prize?) 😀 My husband has never been on a cruise and has many questions. But I can’t find the answer anywhere to this one. How can I choose a cabin that has a toilet positioned so that, when sitting on it, you can lean to the left? lol My husband is rather a hefty guy, and well, he leans to the left in order to use his right hand, to well, wipe his rear. Okay, you can stop laughing now. Our assigned cabin is M138 on the Paradise. Is there a link I can go to that would show the layout of each room on the Paradise? Like a blue print or more detailed diagram than just the deck plans on the site? If you could contact me soon regarding this, I may have time to switch our room. Just in case you can’t lean to the left while doing your business in this one. 😀

Thank you,


John Says:
Hello Kelly Whetstine,

If there was a prize for the craziest question which there isn’t but there should be…… would win it. Brilliant question but one that as a hefty guy myself I can understand. All the staterooms on the Carnival Paradise have similar bathrooms and I have checked with the ship and there is space to the left of yours as the shower cubicle is there so your husband will be able to manage to ……well you know. If he needs more space he could just use the shower curtain. I do hope you have the most wonderful time and thanks for allowing us a bit of a laugh today.

Best wishes to you both,


Diane Strutt Asked:

John reply,

Why do you consistently screw the west coast? I see you had a Bloggers Cruise 2 weeks ago which again was on the east coast and this along with Carnival taking away the Splendor means you don’t care. I don’t want to cruise with your fat ass anyway but if I did I couldn’t because Carnival hates Californians.

John Says:
Hello Diane Strutt,

Let’s start with the good news, shall we? We are not removing the Carnival Splendor from Long Beach as she offers a popular seven-day year-round Mexican Riviera cruise program and is one of two Carnival ships sailing year-round from the West Cost. We continue to support the West Coast while other cruise lines have indeed abandoned California. I apologise that I have never had a Bloggers Cruise on the West Coast and one day maybe me and my fat arse will get to host one out there as I know it would be loads of fun.

Best wishes,


ANON Blogger Asked:
Hi John,

Did Carnival stop offering a discounted rate for the 3rd guest? The first 2 cruises I went on had a cheaper rate for the 3rd person. However, as I’m searching for another cruise I’m finding that it’s the same rate for the 3rd guest.

John Says:
Hello ANON Blogger,

I asked someone to explain this as I am not the best person to ask and here is what I was told. “Rates in the new booking engine are shown initially, as average pricing – divided equally among all guests until you get to the payment screen; then it shows the actual break down 3rd or 4th guests in a cabin are usually less expensive.” I hope that explains everything and if you have any other questions please let me know

Best wishes,


Chris Asked:

I just read an article in NY Times about “first class” type areas, pools etc. returning to some cruise lines. We are now going on our 7th cruise, and I’d like to know if Carnival will be doing this? Or does it already….We enjoy all aspects of cruising and are enjoying the shows, the choices, the silly stuff like belly flop competitions, dancing under the stars, and the general happy atmosphere we find. What is carnival’s view?

Love your blog.


John Says:
Hello Chris,

There are some cruise lines that still adopt a system where by certain areas of the ship are only available to guests that have booked a certain category of stateroom or have certain deck space that costs extra to use. While this may suit some lines it’s not something Carnival believes in and not something I see us adopting. Even our Serenity decks are free unlike other adult only areas on other lines. I am so glad to read how much you love Carnival and hope that continues for a long time.

Best wishes


Kristina Garl Asked:
John, please answer me when u can:

My husband and I have cruised twice before, both on the spirit in ’06 & ’08 without any of our children. I would like to bring my kids along some day but have some concerns. My 2 youngest boys would be entertained the entire time I am sure, but I am not sure about my currently 17 year old son. By the time I am possibly able to take them all with me (in the planning stages right now) he will then likely be 18. Too old for children’s programs and not old enough for adult entertainment. Is it a waste of money to bring him? I would hate for our vacation time to be marred by his boredom, although I do love him very much. It would disappoint me so to see him feel bored and left out. I know I will have to pick a ship with a lot to do as he is very active, which I am happy for. I am a cruise addict and would love your advice.

Thank you so much for all you do!!!!

John Says:
Hello Kristina Gal,

This is a hard one to answer because I obviously don’t know your son but I will say this. We have a lots of guests his age cruising and if he is not the overly shy kind he will make new friends immediately and you won’t see him until it’s time to leave. I know this is something that often concerns parents but there is no safer atmosphere for your son to have a fun vacation in than on one of our ships. If there are any other bloggers who have teens Kristina’s sons age please could you add your advice as I am sure she will find it most useful.

Best wishes and I truly hope we see you all soon.


Norman V Asked:
John, Please Respond

I am very upset about Carnival’s decision to leave Jacksonville as home port of the Fascination as are so many Cruise Critic readers today. We don’t understand why this is happening. What did we do wrong? You just lost hundreds of passengers to the competition!

John Says:
Hello Norman V,

I see you posted this on March 29th so by now I hope you have seen that the rumour that the Carnival Fascination is leaving Jacksonville is incorrect. We think it’s a great homeport and we appreciate the fact that so many from the area love having a Carnival ship based there year-round.

Best wishes,


John Ferdinand Asked:
John –

You should model yourself on cruise director Ken Rush. We just got off the Allure of the Seas and while we think carnival’s free choice of food is better and the staff more outgoing on the Carnival boats we felt the Cruise director Ken was more professional. We sailed with you on the Freedom in 2008 and did not appreciate your toilet and sometimes XXXXXXX humor. Ken is talented and does not need to result to disgusting jokes to get a laugh. This is my opinion and you said on your blog today that everyone has an opinion and so this is mine. We will be on the Legend in October from Tampa.


John Says:

Hello John Ferdinand,

I have heard brilliant things about Ken Rush who I believe is RCI’s senior cruise director and I am not surprised you enjoyed him so much as he is among the best in the industry right now. I know I am not your typical CD and that my humour does not make everyone laugh. I also know that I get cheeky but I don’t think I have ever been “XXXXXXX”……have I? If I have then I apologise sincerely for upsetting you. The most wonderful part of your posting and the most important part was that you found the food and the service better on Carnival……that really made me smile. Have a great time on the Carnival Legend.

Best wishes


That’s all for today…………….back with more tomorrow.

This cruise we had 8,000 plus excursions booked through the ship and for the very most part the guests have absolutely enjoyed their experiences. there is no doubt our excursion program is brilliant this year and as always I recommend that if you are taking a European cruise that you allow the passionate guides we use to show you the wonders of their homelands. It would be wrong of me if I didn’t report that things do not always go smoothly as you will see now.

Sent: Saturday, May 07, 2011 6:08 PM
Subject: Bus – 35 Broke Down on Easy Rome tour – Civitavecchia 9 Rome )

Good Afternoon,

Please be advised that unfortunately the last bus for Easy Rome tour broke down just by the Pier Gate Entrance and it took approx. 30 minutes to get a replacement for it. 48 guests assigned to this last bus had to wait for an extra 30 minutes in the Showtime Theatre. Apologies were extended along with a 25% discount from the regular price. Guest Services – if you have any unhappy guest from this bus stopping by your desk, kindly direct them to the shore excursion desk (open from 6pm – 9 pm). Please do not hesitate to contact us if any further information is needed.


Now I show you this because I have always promised to tell you the good the bad and the ugly, or the Megan Fox’s bottom, Rosie O’Donnell’s bottom or my being behind my bottom after I have had a delicious breakfast burrito from Lido Deck. Anyway, I show you through honesty and so I could say that initially these guests were not happy but because they had an excursion booked through the ship we were able to get a new bus to them quickly and compensate them accordingly. Yes……I am flying the book an excursion from the ship flag but you know what ….. that’s because I have absolutely no qualms about doing so.

Now if we have problems with an excursion we can act accordingly but there are some concerns and complaints that goodness knows how you compensate…………like this little gem here.

Cabin: _______ Booking#_________ Added-Changed: 05/08/11 – 05/08/11

Unhappy with Pisa Tour
Mrs_______came to the GSD to state they wanted to speak to cruise director. They were on bus 7 and the people on the seats in front of them had very bad bodily smells and it was so bad his wife became ill. The bus was full and there were no seats and so guest came back from Pisa in taxi cost 45 Euros which they are also wanting refunded. Guest was very upset and said they had booked the tour for Mothers Day and it had been bad experience because of the smell of guests.

This is a tough one and I think we had a similar comment during a previous Baltic season. I spoke to the guests who were happy that I agreed to refund the taxi fare but then not happy because I said no to a full refund. That’s because they still enjoyed the tower and Pisa’s Piazza Miracoli and I couldn’t justify a full refund for a 40 minute smelly coach ride. My joke about how they should have just closed their eyes and pretended they were in Paris went without a laugh.

So before we talk about this cruise how to recap the inaugural cruise of your Carnival Magic.  Well I think I have covered just how brilliant the new areas are in previous blogs but let’s do so again in my own top 10 most common words of praise about the ship from guests mixed with my own thoughts. So here then is the top 10 best things about your Carnival Magic List from her inaugural cruise.

I have never been much of a burrito fan but after a guest told me how much the loved the breakfast version I had to try it. Sausage, eggs with chilies, tomatoes and peppers in huge burritos it’s absolutely great. More delicious than I ever imagine. One guest, however, has a new use for the venue — “If you’ve got a hangover from the RedFrog Pub you’re trying to shake off.” What a wonderful way to wake up. Yep a breakfast burrito is something everyone loves ……………….except the chief plumber………..obviously.

I didn’t really get much feedback on this until we reached Naples as the weather was not so good at the start of the cruise. But the further south we went the warmer it got and then the slides began to get major use. I remember a program on National Discovery Beards channels that the simple pleasure of sliding on your arse down a chute into water is thought to have been discovered by builders working on aqueducts. Well here on the Carnival Magic the squeals of nervous delight can be heard from young and old and the Magic Dump Bucket….it’s my blog and I can call it that even though I was told it was not a suitable name by the beards……is also very popular but we have to do something about that sodding bell ringing every time its dumps. Although maybe it’s a good thing and maybe I should put a bell next to my toilet. Regardless, the water park here is the best at sea and guests absolutely love it.

One of the slight negatives this cruise was that the cast could not board the ship early to perform all three production shows. Some conspiracy theorists felt that Carnival was cutting back and that was the reason there were no “big” shows. Much to the contrary we have spent more money than ever but unfortunately these shows were not ready in time and only one was performed to the guests and that was on the last night. There are as I said logistical reasons for this but that’s not the guests’ fault, it’s ours and we must never let this happen again and when we introduce Carnival Breeze I hope we have the shows ready to perform. And I can’t move on without an apology to those guests who sailed on the 9 day cruise who only saw one of the “big” shows and while I think we gave them brilliant entertainment with Karen Grainger, Marcus Anthony, Gronway Thom, Al Ernst and 4 different Punchliner comedians……..I know these shows were missed. Sorry everyone.

Anyway, the one show we did open was the new magic and illusion show Destination: Unknown! This starts all 12 dancers, the two brilliant vocalists and of course world class magician Jason Byrne. This show is beyond spectacular and with features that we have never ever had on any of our ships. In fact, there are features of this show that have never been tried on any ship in the entire cruise industry before and that makes this show an absolute must see.

I was a little worried that the Cucina de Capitano would take the guests away from the steakhouse not to mention that the steakhouse was relocated to Promenade. I was also concnered about the noise bleeding into the steakhouse from the Punchliner comedy club and the music from the lounge where we have would-be rock stars howling out AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long like a demented werewolf. But I was wrong…….on all counts. The sound proofing is brilliant and not one complaint was received. The location, if anything seemed to attract more than distract from people eating there, in fact have a look at the first cruise figures:

Venice: 59
Sea: 92
Dubrovnik: 83
Sea – elegant: 78
Messina: 85
Naples: 95
Rome: 83
Livorno: 89
Monaco: 95

Remember this steakhouse is smaller than the ones on the Spirit, Conquest, Splendor and Dream class ships with a maximum of 95 covers. But as you can see, it was a huge hit once again. The ambiance is superb and the food………..well the food is extraordinary and I still say that for the price, it’s the best meal and indeed the best steak at sea.

I say the “best steak” with a bit of a grin to myself though. You see, a few days ago we were in Naples and I was in the middle of a conversation about tales of “the best pizza in the world,” as if a pizza were ever anything but…..well………pizza. Yes, I know it was invented in Naples and yes I know it’s Italian and yes I know our Chairman Micky Arison likes Princess Cruise Lines’ Pizza or according to their chef he does but……… there really that much difference between pizzas that one makes you go “mmmmm” and the other brings you to orgasmic culinary heights?

But while Pizza experts are a pain in the arse, steak experts are in my humble opinion total wankers. They’re even worse than hamburger wankers. These professors of steak are always just back from New York or Argentina or Miami Beach ready to lecture you about cow’s that were massaged by Latvian women in stocking’s and suspenders. They tell you (the steak experts not the cows) about the cut, the taste and that Kobe beef is the best and …………and oh shut up ……..You went to a restaurant and ordered steak. The end.

For years I would never order a steak in a restaurant because…….well it was a steak, a steak that if I wanted Heidi would cook me at home. But then I discovered the Carnival steakhouse and I discovered that it wasn’t just a fact of throwing a piece of a cow on a hot grill and adding a dollop of ketchup next to it…….nope, it was much more. It’s the saltiness, that deep, juicy redness revealed when the cut halves of the meat are peeled open and shoved apart; that moment when you pause the fork in front of your nose to breath in the amount of fine beef just before enters the mouth? And coupled with the fact that there are amazing appetizers, salads and desserts and that the price is only $30……well I now consider the steakhouse to be a fantastic place to eat and the one here on the Carnival Magic to be as good as any I have ever eaten in. Oh, I do have to admit that the chef hates me because I ask for my steak well done…….very well done. While I know that’s a sacrilege the last thing I want when I cut my Porterhouse open is the opening 15 minutes from Saving Private Ryan.

One last thing. You may have seen on my Facebook page that we have decided to relax the dress code in all our Steakhouses and allow jeans. That’s proper jeans, not ripped jeans and no …….. we absolutely do not allow T Shirts. Polo shirts yes. T-Shirts no. The only exception to this is on elegant night when jeans will not be allowed.

Many of you remember the days when you couldn’t go to dinner on a ship without going back to your cabin first to get changed? On formal nights maitre ds would turn you away if you weren’t wearing a tie. Gentlemen were required to wear jackets. It was the same in restaurants on land but then…..for the most part things changed ……and so did we here at Carnival. At a 5 star, rich and tanned and very expensive and posh eatery in Miami called Prime 112……….if you can afford it you are welcome whether dressed in Armani or just your underpants.

So, I guess my view is this. I’m all for appropriate attire but it’s crazy to tell our guests what they must wear. In my duties as cruise director, I make sure that our guests have as fun and relaxed a time as possible. That means letting them wear and do and eat whatever takes their fancy. But my opinion is a simple one……..when I am on vacation I don’t want a lot of rules, I don’t want to be told what to wear and it bothers me not the least if someone is at dinner wearing a snorkel mask, pink G string and flippers……my porterhouse will still taste bloody marvelous.

I think it’s great that we here at Carnival offers choice. We advertise elegant night and suggest what to wear on the flyer we place in the cabins. If you wish to dress up in an elegant fashion …. and many do..….then I think that’s wonderful. However, it genuinely baffles how many people on Facebook were upset that we made the “jeans decision” for the steakhouse because if you reach a point in your existence where you start to worry about what others are wearing then you must have considered and done everything else that life has to offer. People love the steakhouse here on Carnival Magic and around the fleet…..and some are loving it……. in a pair of jeans.

I remember when I first heard that the beards were putting this on your Carnival Magic I said “no bugger will use this, they are here to see Europe not swing on a string.” As usual…….I was totally wrong because as of this Monday morning 843 people have used the course including a 77 year old man guest from Switzerland who was in fact also in my Marriage Show with me as well. It seems the thrill seekers come in all shapes and sizes and providing they are 42 inches or taller and the harness can fit……..then everyone is having a go. It may be the views from up there, it may be the thrill seeking element or it may be some are escaping from their wives nagging about going shopping that has so many wanting to try it but regardless of what the reasons are, the Skycourse has brought out the inner Tarzan in 843 guests…………and that’s brilliant.

Not everyone is aware that we named our Lido decks by adopting the Italian word for an open air swimming place and the Lido on your Carnival Magic is let me say……..the best in the fleet. The space is wider and more open and the addition of the cabanas that allow paddling in the beach effect area make it very appealing. But it’s the furniture, the beach chairs and increased number of outdoor dining areas that so many people have commented on and that’s great news. As well as the usual lounge chairs we have oversized chairs and foot stools, swing chairs, cabanas, hammocks and more as well as those extra areas for al fresco dining…………brilliant.

Rather than me waffle on…..let’s start with looking at how many enjoyed this magnifico Italian eatery.

Venice: 73
Sea: 122
Dubrovnik: 119
Sea – elegant: 116
Messina: 137
Naples: 137
Rome: 143
Livorno: 137
Monaco: 115

We have set the limit now at 130 which is the comfortable amount. So what is it about the Cucina that has made it so popular? Well it’s a whole mix of things from the gorgeous welcoming decor, the fast friendly service and of course the food which Mama would be proud to call her own. And the price! I mean $10 and just $5 for kids! If there is a better value meal at sea I will allow a steaming hot bowl of spaghetti carbonara to be poured down the front of my underpants. The feedback from the guests has been brilliant and if you are sailing on your Carnival Magic in the weeks and months ahead then you should call 1174 as soon as you board and book your Cucina experience.

After a hot day exploring Rome or swinging on a rope or having a marathon session of rumpy pumpy with a Latvian Lap dancer you don’t think, “Oooh. What I really need now to quench my thirst is a Pina Colada or a Slippery Nipple.” You always want a beer served ice cold in a proper pint glass with condensation dripping down the outside and finally Carnival has, thanks to Pub Aficionado (and Carnival president and CEO) Gerry Cahill, gotten the perfect place in which to drink that ice cold pint. Now I should say also that I am glad we went with the Caribbean pub and not the English version because most copies of an English pub I have seen on land in America have been absolute bollocks. But then again how do you copy an English pub? If I was told to put an exact copy of my local pub at home “The George and Dragon” then I promise you no guest would go in there. For a start it’s full of low beams that the high visibility beards at Carnival would either ban as a safety hazard or cover with “watch your head stickers.” There would be brass……..loads of brass…….and the guests would all have to wear Pringle jumpers, be a Freemason and be forced to drink a pint of real English bitter that has a name like Old Speckled Hen’s Bollocks and has twigs and branches floating in it and bathroom walls where drunken men have completely missed the target.

But the beards didn’t do English or an Irish pub and went with the laid back Caribbean vibe that is the RedFrog. It’s a massive hit. The guests love the ThirstyFrog Ale; they love the $3.33 food with the conch fritters and the Jamaican Chicken Wings being the most popular. They love the music of Danny Black and Tim Pierce and their sunset parties. They love the traditional pub games like shuffleboard and dominoes. And I will tell you what else they like. They like, no ……. they love the fact that we have done this properly. The beards have made sure that every bartender and server is from the Caribbean and dressed them accordingly in Caribbean shirts and hats. And they love the fact that the crew love to work there.

Now you know me. I hate all that marketing speak and find myself feeling nauseous every time someone mentions blue sky thinking and my normal reaction is to “reach out” my left leg and insert my foot in their bottom. But there is a new word that does make sense. It’s called “branded” and simply means…….done properly. Everything, the signs, the napkins, the glasses, the uniforms are all branded RedFrog and that I think is brilliant. Yep, it’s a show stealer and goodness knows how popular it’s going to be when we get to Galveston. Oh…….and you know what…………there’s talk about a RedFrog opening up on another ship in the future. Here now is a video I shot today from the RedFrog Pub.

And so there it is, your new Carnival Magic. She is quite a ship and for many she will become their favourite ship in the fleet. It is obvious the effect the new beards have had because parts of the ship are not the Carnival of old and the spaces they have added are exceptional and it makes me extra excited as to what they are going to to with the Carnival Breeze. I have a feeling she will be a brand new day for this great company and that is absolutely thrilling.


There is one more thing I want to mention. There are so many bells and whistles on this ship but one thing remains the same today as it did on the Mardi Gras….and that of course is the crew. There are red amphibians, Italian kitchens and guests on a rope…but it’s the crew…. men and women from 50 different countries representing every creed, religion and colour that remain today as they were on the Mardi Gras…..the iconic feature that makes Carnival the most fun vacation…in the world. Your Carnival Magic is a great ship……. and I truly wish you were here.


Your friend,


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.