Lots of Stuff

May 12, 2011 -

John Heald

One of the things waiting for Heidi when she got home was a huge parcel containing my award from Porthole Magazine for the best blog in the cruise industry……and as you can see it’s bloody huge.

Here it is in my Dad’s little office:

It’s a beautiful award and I am honoured to have won this and other awards during my career, most of which are for the blog thingy and all of which I give my Dad who proudly hangs them in one of his upstairs rooms. It used to be my sister Suedrip’s room from which she would listen to her David Soul (All I Want Is Black Bean Soup) album and dream that she was a kid from Fame. It now houses my awards, photos of the ship and of my sister’s many banking industry achievements.

The reason I give them to my Dad is that I never know what to do with them. I have two awards from Porthole, one from Seatrade Insider and others from various publications……so what do I do with them? I am as I said, very proud of but hanging them on a wall at home is like I am showing off.

I know many Carnival folks who have been photographed meeting Micky Arison. They want everyone to know that this has happened and have a huge blown up photo on their office wall or on their desk which is basically saying “Do come in. Would you like a drink? Oh and did you know the Mickster and I are great friends?”

Heidi disagrees with me and she is now saying I should hang my awards at home in a place of prominence somewhere that others can see them without being too obvious. And so I gave in and the Porthole award you see above is now hung in our downstairs toilet where it will have a captive audience (I’m told many Oscar winners keep their prized trophies in the loo). Heidi is very happy about this because my Porthole award will be replacing the semi-naked photo of Megan Fox which currently hangs above the toilet. I shall miss that picture a lot. It was the perfect place to hang it and I know all my mates used to love going to the toilet in my house with the opportunity to look at the most desirable bottom in the world.
I wonder if it is the same at famous people’s houses? I mean does Micky Arison have a photo of himself and LeBron James above his toilet? Does the Queen have a photo of The Queen Elizabeth naming ceremony above her royal potty?

And then there is the White House. Yep, I wonder if President Obama has a particular photo in the chief executive washroom. The photo that so many think is bollocks and doesn’t exist. He can’t keep it on the desk in the Oval Office or amongst his photos of the kids and the dog. So my guess is that should you ever go to the presidential toilet in the White House you will see right there, above the crapper, a photo of Osama Bin laden with a hole in his head.

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


PAUL CASMACKI Asked:

John,

Last year we had two ports of our Liberty cruise canceled because of a hurricane. This was handled very badly by Carnival Cruise Lines and every single passenger on board complained and there were riots in the reception desk. I have decided to give your company one more try and will be on the Valor on June 12 in cabin 1399. Because of what happened I want an upgrade to a balcony cabin and some free drinks or something that will show you are sorry and that you value my business.

John Says:
Hello Paul Casmacki,

I know it is upsetting when planed ports of call are canceled but I am also absolutely positive that you understand that we will never put our guests in harm’s way and a hurricane is definitely something we must avoid at all costs in the interest of guest and crew safety. While I cannot offer you an upgrade or free drinks I can and will send you something to say thanks for sailing with us again. I wish you a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes,

John

Michael Cagle Asked:
John,

I have a total of 12 cruises with Carnival. I have not received the comment card e-mail for the past 6. My last cruise was on the Triumph Feb 26th. I have in the past spoken to my PVP, someone from Customer Service and you about this. And yes, I have checked the box to receive e-mail. I know that I am on the e-mail/mailing list because almost weekly I receive e-mails from Carnival trying to sell me another cruise. I would like the opportunity to make my thoughts known to Carnival about my cruises and to give praise to the staff where it is deserved. I am not asking to receive something for free, like so many others, just a chance to be heard by the “beards.” Thank you and please pass this along to the appropriate office.

John Says:
Hello Michael Cagle,

There are many things the beards and I agree on and there are many new innovations that they have brought to the company that is outstanding and will continue to make this company the best there absolutely is in the industry. But one thing I believe needs some improving is the current review card system. I know it saves trees not putting it on paper but the simple fact is that not everyone who wants one is getting one. I am fighting in your corner on this and won’t give up. Please know that meanwhile you can send me any comments and praise you have and I promise the right people will see it.

Best wishes,

John

Ken V Asked:

1st time cruiser on Costa Deliziosa in June out of Amsterdam. Made the change from RCCL, they removed their “cigar bars!” How do you rate this ship?

John Says:
Hello Ken V,

I was not aware that RCI removed their cigar bars so thanks for telling me. Costa Deliziosa is a gorgeous ship that oozes Italian charm. They have a cigar lounge and have a fully stocked humidor that features cigars by Cohiba, Monte Cristo and Paratagas as well as others by Davidoff and Fuente. I was on the sister ship Costa Pacifica and enjoyed a fabulous Opus X with my after dinner coffee. The chocolate bar, the F1 simulator and of course the fabulous food will really make your decision to try Costa cruise lines absolutely the right one……and then some. Have a great time and if you are in Amsterdam and want to buy some cigars go to:

N. ANDRINGA
Address: Reguliersbreestraat 2
1017 CN Amsterdam
Phone: 31-20-623-2836
Fax: 31-20-620-9563

Mention my name as we are great friends and he has a brilliant range of wonderfully looked after cigars. Have a great time and long ashes to you.

Best wishes,

John

Miss Jay Asked:
John,

My 14 year old son started to read your blog after we cruised with you on the Splendor and I was horrified when I saw the content. There should be a parental warning as your sexual overtones are disgusting. I have since banned Ryan from reading this filth and am shocked that Carnival lets you do this.

John Says:
Hello Miss Jay,

I was so sad when I read this and my good mood of the day has been taken away. I am really sad that you feel this way and I have never thought that anything I write would need a parental guidance warning. Please accept my sincere apologies and I hope that you will pass on my best regards to Ryan. I will take what you have suggested under immediate consideration.

Best wishes to you all.

John


Kris Asked:

Hi John!

I wrote to you a few days ago asking if you had any recommendations for first time cruisers on the Imagination…I admitted my husband is a bit of tight wad and I’m trying to make sure this is the best vacation ever (especially since we’ve not been anywhere in 15 years) so we can possibly take our 2 kids with us and cruise again in the future! ANYWAY-I forgot to ask you if you could comment on our room….R173. Do you think this will be ok for sea sickness and the like? I so want this cruise to be wonderful…and advice or recommendations would be so appreciated!

Thank you John!

John Says:
Hello Kris,

You know, there are lots of people who believe that in it’s better to be at the front or the back or the middle of the ship. If you are prone to seasickness (not everyone is affected the same way, some not at all) it is much better to be outside than in. These days though sea sickness is not common place. The ships are bigger and handle better and rough weather is not something which you will encounter for the most part. There are also many remedies that prevent sea sickness such as patches, pills and wrist bands. I suggest that if you are truly concerned that you speak to your doctor before you sail. The stateroom is very nice and I know that if you allow yourself to relax that you will have a brilliant time. Please let me know if you need anything else.

Best wishes to all

John

The Michaels Asked:

I would like you to book me and the family confirmed a table for 3. If you can confirm we will get this I will book another cruise with Carnival but not before. We took our first Carnival cruise on the Inspiration and were seated at dinner with a family of different ethnic backgrounds that were rude and racist. Can you deliver this cause we are thinking of summer cruise on Destiny.

John Says:
Hello the Michaels,

I am sorry to hear you didn’t get on with the people you shared your dinner with during your Carnival Inspiration cruise. This is most unusual and obviously I want you to come back to Carnival. So while I cannot guarantee you a table for 3 I can promise to do all I can to help you with this request. I truly hope you will book and if so write to me as soon as you can so I can help you.

Best wishes to all.

John

H and J Asked:
John:

I am not a regular reader of your blog or a Carnival cruiser but after 11 NCL cruises we decided to cruise Carnival and I need you to know what we thought.

http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=79867

It is my intention to make sure that as a Cruise Critic member that everyone sees my evaluation of an inferior product. My question is do you have any defence for what was a poor quality cruise with lower class people both the passengers and crew ?

John Says:
Hello H and J,

At first I had the thought of not even posting this, after all, what would be the point because it seems that you have your mind firmly made up that Carnival is not for you. And that’s fine because everyone is allowed an opinion. But it’s because of opinions that I decided to post this because I am sure if I went into the review page on Cruise Critic I would find many, many positive comments and the fact that we have the huge amount of repeat guests shows that we must be doing something right. I value your opinion and I am sorry that Carnival is not for you and I do hope that whatever you chose as your next vacation gives you both a wonderful time. As for your statement about lower class guests and crew, well that’s your opinion……my opinion is that statement is total and utter bollocks.

Best wishes to you both.

John


Margaret Martin Asked:

Hi, John (please reply)

I have a question for you that is not totally unique but I cannot locate the answer. We will be cruising on the Freedom in January 2012 to Cozumel, Limon, Costa Rica and Colon, Panama. Usually on the first sea day, we have an M&M and people bring a little gift for an exchange. If instead of bringing gifts, we brought school supplies is there a deserving orphanage or school in need of such things. I know there are such places, I just don’t know who to contact or the best one to select. Can someone at Carnival help me? On a personal note, glad you on your feet again after your “intrusive procedure.” No more for 10 years – isn’t that great?

My best,

Margaret

John Says:
Hello Margaret Martin,

How wonderfully kind you are and I am sure we can find a worthy place for your gifts to go to. I will make arrangements for this to happen and as we are sometime away from this happening please can you remind me on November 1 here on the blog thingy and I will take care of everything. Do you need help organising a meet and mingle? If so please let me know. Thanks again and yes…….I am so glad that my inspection is over.

Best wishes to all.

John

Matt Asked:

Any ideas as to when Carnival might be putting out its dates for CANADA sailings from NYC for the SUMMER of 2012?

John Says:
Hello Matt,

You need to stay tuned to my FB page later this month when we expect to have some news on this.

Best wishes,

John

Rocket Mann Asked:
John,

This is probably a strange request but one I hope you can do for me. I will be sailing on the Dream on May 21 in cabin 6388. My son has a terrible phobia with mascots and I just read that Carnival has a mascot. If my son sees this he will freak out and it will be terrible for everyone especially him. I know this is a long shot but can you not have the mascot onboard the week we are on the ship. I thank you so much

RJ Mann

John Says:
Hello Rocket Mann,

I understand how as a parent you want the best for your son and you are not the first to tell me about this phobia. There is in fact a regular blog reader who has a son who has similar fears. I won’t mention who but maybe if she wants this reader can advise you. While we can’t ban Fun Ship Freddy for the week I can make sure that I give you his complete schedule so that you know when and where he will be and so you can make sure your son is not there at this time. I will pass this on now to the youth director of the ship and I will make sure she contacts you onboard. I have asked her to make sure Freddy is not at the embarkation area when you check in. Please don’t worry, all will be well.

My best wishes to you all for a brilliant time.

John

And on that note we end today’s Q and A.

I wanted to…….actually I didn’t want to but am going to anyway…….mention the comment about Kye one more time. I do this only because I received an e mail from one of the Carnival people who work on my blog with me that showed a link on Cruise Critic……..here it is.

I read this and just wanted to mention to “newcatintown” and others that I saw the comment about my daughter after it had been posted and was very upset that the folks in the office had put it on the blog. I think it was a case of them not reading it fully before posting it. I do not post the questions or replies, that’s done by Miami and I promise you that if I had seen it I would never ever have allowed it to be placed for all to see. To suggest that “himself puts it out there, he helps feed it,” etc. is simply an absolute untruth. Just wanted to clarify this. And that’s the last time it will ever be mentioned.

Today we are in Livorno and what an incredible smorgasbord of places the guests have to chose from here. There is Pisa and its Leaning Tower on Miracle Square. There is Florence and its museums and cafes and gold shops and of course Michelangelo’s Statue of David and of course there is Tuscany.

Have a look at these photos from Mr. Radu of another choice as he went on a tour to San Gimignano.

Radu has become the official blog and Facebook photographer and I cannot thank him enough for sharing his talents with us. The sun is shining and 2,300 guests are on Carnival excursions today and as always I wish you were here.

Now I know a lot of travel agents read this blog and I wanted to thank you all so very much for your continuing support. A few weeks ago I was asked on Facebook to suggest a rewards plan for agents and I went to one of the vice presidents with this and yesterday Joni Rein, our VP of worldwide sales sent me this breaking news:

John,

We are in the process of developing a rewards program for our travel partners that will launch as a test later this year. One of the ways Travel Partners will be able to earn rewards will definitely be bookings and we will take your suggestion into consideration in terms of awards that can be won. The program will be announced on GoCCL.com and through your BDM, so stay tuned for more details. We are really excited about this new program and hope that it will be a big success so that we can launch it fully and permanently next year. Please send a big hello and a huge thank you to all our travel agent partners.

Thanks Joni that’s great news and I love your title…..VP of worldwide sales…….does that include France?

People complain about things on a cruise ship. They complain about things in hotels, in shops, restaurants, gas stations, on planes, trains and brothels……complaining is much a part of life as breathing. Here on your Carnival Magic people complain as well but it’s not what you would think about most of the time. Despite the review above by H and J, complaints about food and service are not common.

Yes we get complaints and yes we need to continue to improve in certain areas but most complaints here are focused on for distributing tours which there is nothing we can do about as moving 2,000 people anywhere to somewhere is never going to be over in a flash. We have gotten a few air conditioning complaints….too hot………too cold……and a few about the new Carnival Platinum Pin which for some reason the beards have decided to remove the name of the ship and just say “Platinum Guest” which is not what most guests want. They collect the pins for the names of the ships and why we have taken the name away I have no sodding clue. I am working on this today with the beards who I think had a bit of brain fart. As I said though most complaints have been individual and opinion based as you will see from these three gems:

From: MAGIC ASSISTANT CRUISE DIRECTOR
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 11:03 PM
To: MAGIC CRUISE DIRECTOR; MAGIC GUEST SERVICES
Cc: MAGIC GUEST SERVICES MANAGER; MAGIC GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR; MAGIC MAITRED; MAGIC F&B MANAGER
Subject: Message for John from Stateroom —–

Good Evening

I called Mr———–this evening at approx 9:15pm and spoke to him about his concerns.

The loudest announcements he was concerned about were the ones coming in the cabin (from the Safety Briefing) and the regular hallway announcements bleeding through their stateroom doors.

Mr. ——– was also very concerned about the volume of the announcements in the Northern Lights Dining Room during dinner. These are not PA announcements, but are coming through the internal dining room speaker system.

He would like 1 hour blocked with you John as he has multiple concerns, including
– The color scheme of the ship
– The crew being allowed in guest areas
– No waiter service on lido for lunch
– TV selection channels

Many thanks

James

And this one too…

From: MAGIC MAITRED
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2011 9:26 AM
To: MAGIC ASSISTANT CRUISE DIRECTOR; MAGIC CRUISE DIRECTOR; MAGIC GUEST SERVICES
Cc: MAGIC GUEST SERVICES MANAGER; MAGIC GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR; MAGIC F&B MANAGER; MAGIC HOTEL DIRECTOR;
Subject:

Hi James

I spoke to last night as he did not want me to do the show in the dining room, he thought that it was ridiculous to dance and sing during dinner. He told me that he has been on so many cruises and have never seen anything like this before. I have explained to him very clearly that dining room parades cannot be stopped and it will take place most of the nights, however assured him that the volume of the parade will be controlled, don’t think he was very happy with that answer either. Wanted to speak to the Captain and CD and left.

Regards
Kris

These comments are from the same guest and I can understand his concerns about the volume of the PA system as it needs balancing for sure. Some areas are louder than others and we need to work on this. We won’t be canceling the dining room parades but we will do our best to speed up their service so they don’t have to witness the parades and shows. Anyway, I will meet this guest this evening and chat with them about their concerns.

Now there is one more that I want to share with you.

Guest: Mr ———–Ref: 848710449A
Cabin——– Booking#: ———- Added-Changed: 05/11/11 – 05/11/11

UNHAPPY WITH NO US DOLLARS
Guest called to say that she had tried to use US Dollars in Monaco and that the restaurant had refused them. Guest said she was humiliated because nobody had told and her and her sister only had dollars. The restaurant made her walk to a money change bank and came with her until she gave money.

So my question here is…..should I tell the guests that European countries don’t accept US dollars? Surely this is a one off………right? Please let me know what you think.

A few days ago I showed you some of the brilliantly decorated cakes that had been entered into a contest that celebrated Carnival Corp. & plc’s historic 100th ship. Well now we have a winner and here to tell you about it is our mate Vance.

In a unique competition that showcased the incredible talents of its culinary artists, Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) invited pastry chefs from across its 10 worldwide brands to create custom-designed cakes to commemorate the historic launch of the company’s 100th cruise ship, Carnival Magic.

The chefs certainly were up to the task, creating dozens of highly imaginative confections in recognition of this unprecedented cruise industry achievement.

In the end, the team from Holland America Line’s Rotterdam was deemed the winner for their elaborate series of 10 cruise ship-shaped cakes, each representing a different Carnival Corporation & plc brand, along with a three-tiered cake that paid homage to Holland America’s role in the 100th ship achievement. For their efforts, the Rotterdam team earned the grand prize of $10,000 to be used for a fun-filled crew celebration.

The Rotterdam’s winning entry, along with a sampling of the honorable mention entries submitted by the company’s cruise brands, can be viewed here.

“Deciding the grand prize winner was extremely difficult given the quality and creativity of the entries,” said Micky Arison, Carnival Corporation & plc chairman and CEO. “I would like to thank all of the chefs from across our brands for their fantastic efforts and personally congratulate the team from the Rotterdam for their incredible culinary artistry in celebrating our 100th ship.”

Carnival Magic made history last month when she debuted in Europe, becoming the 100th vessel of Carnival Corporation & plc, whose origins began with the launch of the company’s first ship, Carnival Cruise Lines’ TSS Mardi Gras, in 1972.

In addition to the cake competition for its shipboard teams, Carnival Corporation & plc provided guests sailing aboard its 100 ships an opportunity to participate in the celebration with a complimentary champagne toast late last month. All told, more than 227,000 guests participated in the toast, believed to be the largest celebration of its kind at sea.

Congratulations to Holland America Line’s Rotterdam, I am sure that is one very proud chef indeed. It was a difficult voting process I’m sure but one chef ended up very, very happy. It also made 99 chefs not so happy and as he sails on the ships this summer he should check his food carefully…….that might not be chocolate soufflé. Anyway, it was a great contest and I think we should do more things like this that bring the fleet together. Here is a pick of the winning cake…

We had two people pick-pocketed this last cruise, both in Rome and both by the Trevi Fountain and neither have any recollection of how. I have stepped up my warnings and as well as reminding people in the Fun Times (God I miss typing the word Capers) I have make announcements advising guests to watch their purses, don’t leave them open and in crowds be very aware.

I was talking to my friend Adolfo about this today. He is one of our tour operators and works all over Italy. He told me about how in Naples a thief who tried to pickpocket in a ladies handbag put his hand inside and found only dog crap. Turns out she had been pick pocketed so many times she walked the streets of Naples looking for revenge…..she was a dog poo vigilante. This is a beautiful helping of just desserts. I also thought how they should adopt this policy in southern France because those frequent visitors to places like St. Tropez, Nice, Cannes and yes ……. Paris ……will tell you that the French are absolute dog lovers but never clean up after the dog has deposited its dinner on the Champ De Lessee.

We have strict laws in the UK which is one of the reasons Heidi, Kye and I don’t have a dog. By law you have to deposit it in special bins located across England. But I have never seen any. This means if your dog has just delivered a steaming pile, you can guarantee the nearest crap can is miles away. So if you have a little lap dog you have to carry a cocktail sausage around with you until you find one. If you have a Rottweiler you are in the s**t …….literally.

People moan about these bins because they look ugly and unsightly but I would rather have a receptacle full of doggy turds than what is on the sidewalk from a Labradoodles arse.
By the way……….in the UK we call these bins that are full of crap “Hildegards.” All that just to get that joke in…………sorry.

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.