Brand Bollocks

May 16, 2011 -

John Heald

I mentioned in a blog a few days ago that Europe, especially Italy and Spain, are full of fake goods. There are signs above market stalls that brilliantly advertise “original fakes” and sell Rolex watches that look like the real thing. There are Chanel purses and Dolce and Gabbana underpants and there are also bootleg copies of movies on DVD. These are made by some Nigerian man who sits in the movie theatre pointing a camera at the screen making a movie of the movie. How these people don’t get caught is amazing and surely the answer is that Mr. Ubagooba has slipped Manuel the Barcelona movie theatre manager a few Euros. Anyway, I am dead against these things and advise guests from purchasing these items. For one thing, it’s illegal and supports more serious organised crime and I have seen those warnings at the start of movies that threaten that an FBI SWAT team will burst through your window if you dare watch one. I also don’t buy these movies because the quality is crap and just as you get to a good bit some guy stands up to go pee and walks in front of Mr Ubagooba’s camera.

Speaking of poor quality movies, I have been seeing the trailers and on-line promos for a movie that I was hoping to be decent. It was Arthur, the remake of one of my all time top three movies ……the others being The Hunt For Red October and The Godfather …… oh and Latvian Women In Suspenders Uncut …….obviously. I now regret ever watching these in much the same way as I regret hosting the male Nightgown Contest on the Ecstasy in 1994 in which I shared the stage with 50 Boston Firefighters dressed in lingerie.

Arthur the original was brilliant and Dudley Moore’s scenes with Sir John Gielgud were fantastic. I have clear and present memories of the great English thespian who had I had previously seen on stage in a Shakespeare play during a school trip. Then it had been “to be or not to be” and in Arthur was saying things like “Would you like me to wash your [thingy] for you?” and “Normally one would have to go to a bowling alley to meet someone of your stature.” …………… brilliant.

Yep, it was a classic and with Arthur bumbling lines like “It was a small country, Rhode Island could beat the crap out of it in a war.” It became a favourite of mine……..forever. And now we have the sequel which stars Russell Brand which was beyond dreadful. It was jaw droppingly awful. It was as funny as syphilis.

How that long-haired plonker has the audacity to star in a film that should never have been remade is beyond me. Bloggers, it was awful, pitiful and even P&O Ventura Godmother Dame Helen Mirren couldn’t save this film.

Now for those of you who haven’t seen this, you should feel $9 richer…….oh yes…..Russell Brand is one lucky man because he is has millions in the bank, a gorgeous wife, an Aston Martin and has all this despite, in my opinion, being as funny as explosive diarrhea.

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

Christie Derco asked:
Dearest John,

I’d like to begin by letting you know how much I enjoy your blog-thingy and your Facebook presence. The reason for this note is a favor. My mother-in-law has made a reservation for the entire family, children and grandchildren alike, to join her and my father-in-law on a cruise aboard the aptly-named Miracle on June 7th. This cruise is in celebration of their 50th anniversary and his 75th birthday. She is quite generous, as you can see! I was hoping you could please find it in your heart to do something to make this a most memorable voyage for them. They will be in room #6185. This cruise is a surprise for my father-in-law. I had thought about providing him with a yearly subscription to latvianlapdancers.ohmygoodness, but I am sure you could find something that wouldn’t give his 75-year-old heart such a workout.
Thank you so very much for all you do.

Your constant reader,

Christie

John says:
Hello Christie,

It is always nice to read about families cruising together and I am sure you will all have a wonderful time on the Carnival Miracle. I will send this to my colleague Malcolm, the cruise director on the Carnival Miracle, and ask him to send your parents a little something from me. I wish you all a wonderful time and of course a very happy anniversary celebrating those 50 years together.

Best wishes to all.

John

Janice T asked:

This is going to sound ridiculous I know and probably not the proper place for me to ask. You see we sailed with you last year on the Dream. You may remember me because I was with my husband and we watched each of your morning show from the children’s centre as you allowed us to see it live and you gave my husband a trophy for doing his George Bush impression. John you were wonderful and you have such a big heart and seem to have such a way with people which is why I need your advice.

I have just found out that my 16-year- old son is gay. He told his father 2 months ago telling him not to tell me but he did as perhaps he knew he would. He said to him that he would tell me soon, but needed to prepare himself. Since then, I have heard nothing. I’m really not upset by the news, and I can’t say I’m surprised. But I thought we were close and knew how to talk to one another. I don’t know whether he is going to get around to talking to me, but if and when he does, I don’t want to say the wrong thing. We are cruising with you on Magic on the June 3rd cruise BKG #_______ and cabin _______and I am desperate for your help and my request. Please John can I have a table for 3 please as I am going to use this time to confront my son and try and get this sorted. We will be on excursions and he will be in the club all day as well so dinner is the time we will be able to talk. Thanks John so much for being such a wonderful person. I love him and am scared this will drive us apart forever.

John says:
Hello Janice T,

Yes, I do remember our time on the Carnival Dream. I am sure that you are a wonderful and brilliant Mum and my heart tells me that this will all work out and everything will be OK… The fact that he hasn’t told you yet doesn’t mean that he won’t. It just means that you are his Mum and he may be concerned about how this may affect your relationship. I’m sure it won’t of course because you love him and love conquers all as they say.

I will absolutely get you a table for three and I hope this allows you the perfect opportunity to start a conversation with your son. I am guessing that he is probably waiting for the “right time” but since you have the power to make everything better. I hope this will be when you are all relaxed and enjoy the fun and enjoyment of the Carnival Magic and that by the time the chocolate melting cake comes that all three of you will be hugging and loving each other even more.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Leon Parkshaw asked:
John,

I have read online that Carnival is giving up all its live music and that the shows that feature live music are no longer and that it is all done by click track. I am a former band leader for Holland America and was at sea in the orchestra for 8 years. It is disgusting that Carnival does not support live music and incomprehensible that you could perform a show without the orchestra. I am so angry about this and ask you why Carnival does not support live music but I guess it’s typical of Carnival to do this which is why I would never work for you.

John says:
Hello Leon Parkshaw,

Thanks for taking the time to write and I hope you had a wonderful 8 years at sea. I am not sure where online you read this because it is absolutely not true. Every single vessel in the fleet has a live band at the shows and those band sizes range from 5 to 10 piece depending on the ship. I am a huge supporter of live music and so is the company I work for. I am not sure what the closing part of your statement is based on but it is without foundation and if you a high caliber musician we would welcome you to come and join us.

Best wishes.

John

Tracie asked:
Hi,

We are considering booking the Glory March of 2012. We are a family of 5. At that time our boys will be 16, 14 and 12. Do you think this is a good cruise choice for kids of those ages? We are also considering The Magic but it is quite a bit more expensive. I would appreciate any advice you may have.

John says:

Hello Tracie,

Absolutely yes. I have spent many happy contracts on the Carnival Glory and you will find the ship to be a brilliant place to spend your hard earned family vacation. The boys will love Circle C and the eldest Club O2, leaving you both to enjoy the sun and fun. Then, you all meet up for dinner and talk about your day. I highly recommend the ship and if you have any specific questions I will be here to answer them for you.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Patb asked:
John,

We are going on the Elation in August and I would like to know if there is any way to find out who the cruise director is going to be. We cruised on the Elation in Nov. 2010 and were really disappointed at the lack of activities for 60+ age people…This will be out 16th cruise on Carnival and we have never had this problem before. Our cruise director was Steve Knisley…I was going to give him a bad review, but there was no review forms given out…Thanks for an answer if you can.

Pat

John says:
Hello Patb,

I am so sorry to hear about your recent experience. I will make sure Steve sees this because I know he will double his efforts to make sure that he looks at what he can do better but he usually gets lots of praise. Steve will be on the ship until August 8 when Karl takes over. I wish you a wonderful cruise and just so you can see exact dates here is a link to the current CD schedule. Have a wonderful time and let me know if you need anything before you sail

Best wishes,

John

Kristie Cruiser asked:

John,

I am a huge Princess Cruises fan having just reached Elite status. I have never cruised with Carnival but I never miss your blog now having started reading after the fire on the ship Splendor which deserves to be a book and a movie because your writing was really fantastic. Have you received any offers? Back to Princess. I know they are part of Carnival Corporation and I wondered therefore why Princess does not have anyone like you. You’d think Princess would have the social media resources and personnel available, and wherewithal to engage in some dialogue with its fans and customers. Why not give the cruise line a voice and get in there and mix it up with your customers, most of whom are saying great things about the Princess experience generally? Missed opportunity for Princess because apart from their travel blogs there is no such engagement and interaction. Can you mention this to Princess as I have written but did not get a response at all? I wish you would work with Princess as I would love to experience your talents live.

John says:
Hello Kristie Cruiser,

Thanks so much for those words of praise. I am not surprised you love Princess so much as I have experienced why for you and for many they are the cruise line of choice. Recently Princess showed the dry dock work carried out on the Grand Princess, videos that had thousands of views. This along with their recent blogs about destinations the ships go to show that there is a Princess following online. I will certainly send this to my friends at Princess and let them know their loyal fans want more interaction. Thanks so much once again for reading the blog thingy.

Best wishes.

John

Paul H asked:

You seem to have the need to constantly bash Cruise Critic and I am sure you will use this as another excuse to do so and your ass kissing fans will run like little doggies to protect you. But there is no escaping that Cruise Critic members are the most influential group of cruise experts on the web and all of us agree that your decision last week to leave Mazatlan and go to two days in Cabo is a one big over reaction.

As one member Martini Mom puts it perfectly one shooting in Mazatlan causes an itinerary change for a ship that leaves from Los Angeles?!

So now I am stuck with two days in Cabo on my May1st cruise and no apology or anything from Carnival. Time to open the popcorn as we say and watch your stupid doggies attack.

John says:

Hello Paul H,

I am not going to grace your statement about me bashing Cruise Critic with an answer as I am so bored with this I would rather place my thingy in a sandwich toaster than discuss this nonsense again………so let’s move on shall we. I see that you cruised a couple of weeks ago and I am so sorry I missed answering this before you sailed. However, I hope you enjoyed your cruise and the two days in Cabo which I have to say I have never heard described as you did. In fact for many it is one of their favourite ports.

We are sorry we had to leave Mazatlan, truly we are and I am sure that when I announced this on my blog and when Carnival sent out the official press release that both times the word “sorry” was used. If I am mistaken then let me apologise one more time. The simple fact is that guest and crew safety are our number one priority which is why we’ve decided to bypass Mazatlan and spend two days in Cabo. I hope one day we can return and I hope most of all that you had a brilliant time.

Best wishes,

John


J Delap asked:

Hi John,

I heard a rumor on the bloggers cruise that Carnival is planning something special for when the Magic comes to Galveston. If this is true please tell as I want to come as I live just north of the port. Thanks for the fantastic cruise and all the nice freebies.

John says:
Hello J Delap,

Well, I can’t tell you anything except that something very special will happen before the inaugural cruise from Galveston. It’s a huge secret right now but I promise the first people to know about it will be you and my blogging and Facebook friends. I am so glad you had fun on BC4 and hope to see you on BC5.

Best wishes,

John


Craig asked:

Hello John,

My wife and I (both Platinum) were wondering about all the “specific table requests” you receive and try to accommodate for the folks online. Normally, my wife and I get onboard and immediately go to the dining area, check out our table location – and if we aren’t completely satisfied, we will then get a hold of the maitre ‘d to find something more to our liking. Our question: What affect, if any, will all the online requests have on us folks who actually wait to get onboard to make alternative seating arrangements?

Regards,

Craig

John says:
Hello Craig,

Please don’t worry because in the grand scheme of things the people I help with table requests represent a tiny percentage of people who ask directly on the ships and of whom many are helped by the maitre d. I am here should you ever need help and congratulations on your Platinum status and your loyalty to Carnival.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Maureen Fairservice asked:
Hi John,

I returned from a wonderful cruise on the Victory 2/27/11. I was told I would get a comment card emailed after my return. I have so many wonderful comment to say about Karl with a K, Matt, the waiters and the Shipboard Shops and our wonderful Maitre D. I would like the email, as it is important these people be recognized when he are awesome, totally awesome.

Thanks.

John says:
Hello Maureen Fairservice,

A wonderful review Maureen and of course it will be my honour (spelt correctly) to send your words of praise to the ship. I am so glad that you had fun and that the crew made a brilliant impression on you. I hope we see you soon on another Carnival vessel.

Best wishes,

John

Screaming Eagle Walter F 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry asked:

I agree with the post from Harry in today’s blog that Carnival does absolutely nothing for Vietnam veterans. Soldiers of today have it easy compared to what me and my comrades went through and yet they get all the glory and they get huge discounts with Carnival. What do we get we get nothing that’s what.

John says:

Hello Screaming Eagle Walter F 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry,

Sir, I do not pretend to understand what you and others went through in Vietnam and I think you must have been misinformed as Carnival Cruise Lines truly appreciates the commitment made by you and your brothers in arms and we’re happy to extend special military discount to members of every branch of service. In fact, in recognition of Memorial Day we have a special promotion going on right now for our active and former military personnel. Please contact a travel agent or Carnival for more details on behalf of all of us thanks so much for your service.

Best wishes,

John

 

Cabin: ————–Added-Changed: 05/13/11 – 05/13/11

GIFT SHOP INCIDENT

Guest came to the GSD to say that during the $10 Mediterranean bazaar in the gift shop that another guest had pushed her out of the way and snatched a t shirt from her hand. Guest said that she had used bad language when she said that it was her T shirt. GSA apologized and said that the Gift Shop Manager would be informed.

How ridiculous is that? They had some tables outside of the shops where upon the shop manager had placed these Mediterranean bazaar items which were all on sale and I guess they were very popular. But come on, it’s a bloody T-shirt……in fact ……it sounds like there was nearly blood on the T-shirts as guests went crazy for this stuff. This poor guest was shoved out of the way for a sodding t-shirt, how ridiculous. I have seen it before yesterday’s incident here on your Carnival Magic and I know I will see it again.

What is it that makes nice people magically shed their civilized skins and change into rude grabbing bastards who’d shove a pensioner (yep the lady was 71) and pull the t shirt from her cold wet hand? But that’s shopping. Take a look at the facial expression of the average cruise ship shopper in places like Cozumel and St. Maarten and you’ll see nothing behind the eyes. Just a robotic stare and a determination and a growl for anyone who gets in their way.

I remember on the last European ship I did the Carnival Splendor and specifically when we were coming to the end of our season cruising to St, Petersburg. Our shop manager Giles had to get rid of every mug, T-shirt and souvenir with the words St. Petersburg, etc. on it as we were never going back. I will never forget how crazy that sale was. Everything was 80% off. Guests were using Navy SEAL team tactics as ferocious men and women linked arms with their battle axe friends to barge through crowds while some used their walkers and wheelchairs to create a cordon around the table like lionesses over a freshly killed deer.

I felt really sorry for this lady and so I spoke to the gift shop manager who agreed that we should give her one and so we bought her a T-shirt and I felt good about this. I sent Mel my wonderful PA here on the Carnival Magic to her cabin to give it to her and Mel returned a few minutes later looking quite embarrassed…..she came into my cabin and relayed that the lady had told her and I kid you not that “She wanted a blue one.“……………….oh FFS!

We are in Dubrovnik where like our inaugural cruise it’s a day of cloud and showers. Hopefully this will do nothing to deter the guests from enjoying this marvelous place. Carnival Magic is the newest ship in town and it is extraordinary to think that just 20 years ago cruise ship tourism would have been impossible. But now………wow…….I what a transformation. That’s because just 20 years ago the place where your Carnival Magic sits right now was being pounded by artillery and tanks from the hills above. Thousands lost their lives and thousands more lost their homes.

UNESCO came in after the war and helped with the restoration and restored the town to the stunning glory it had before the civil war and has once again now. I am sure I will have photos to show you soon but for now let’s have a look at some stunning photos from Mr Radu’s trip to Capri this past Saturday.


I want to take a moment to thank you for something. Look, I promised not to mention what happened last week again, but your comments of support about the comment made about Kye have been overwhelming. Yesterday was her birthday, she was 2 years old. Yesterday I had a morning show, a travel talk, the marriage show, 2 elegant parties, 2 shows, paper work, Facebook and this blog. My day started at 6 am and will finish at 1:30am. So it meant that had Kye been here she would have seen nothing of me. And so as much as it pained me to do so, I made the decision that Kye would have a much more fun birthday at home with her little friends, balloons, cake and all the attention she deserves. It was a very hard decision to make, but it was the right one.

As I explained a few days ago, after reading Hildepoos comment I actually considered going home. Despite what some critics may think, this is not a play for sympathy, it is though the truth. I thought of myself as the most selfish bastard in the world for putting my daughter in the firing line like that and I really thought the time to hang up the microphone and the underpants had come. I have now though told myself that I am not selfish and that the salary Carnival pays me is a salary that will support my wife and daughter. Am I selfish?…maybe……..does Heidi think I am?…..absolutely 100% not. I will hope that they will cruise with me as often as they can this year and that will definitely help. I love being a cruise director. I love the sound of laughter and I love reading the comments from those who have appreciated my entertainment and I love writing and communicating through this blog and on Facebook and I have if anything brought on the negative my comments myself, that’s something I will have to live with as does everyone in the public eye. Anyway, I wanted to say a proper thank you to each and every one of you……… you helped me stay right here, on the Carnival Magic, writing to you……in my underpants ……….. and I hope that is the case for some time to come.

Last week my mouth was on fire because my friend and Carnival’s 355th funniest comedian Al Ernst. We had been sitting outside the RedFrog Pub smoking cigars and talking to some guests and it had become of a bit of an unofficial cigars under the stars type of thing. Anyway, I got the call of nature so left my cigar burning and left to point Percy at the Porcelain. When I returned I put my beloved Monte Cristo in my mouth and after a long draw on the Cuban masterpiece my mouth suddenly exploded, it was burning and burning enough to make me shout out “agghhhhh.”

The guests and Al started laughing hysterically and that was when I discovered that the big sod had dipped the end of my cigar in one of the Caribbean hot sauces that sit on every RedFrog Pub table. My mouth burned for hours and as it did……..I plotted my revenge. Fast forward to last night and elegant night here on the Carnival Magic. Al has his wife Susan onboard with him and they decided to go to the Southern Lights dining room……..Ken’s dining room…….for dinner and I saw my chance of revenge.

Now, Al did not suspect a thing because I was not eating with him and therefore he really had no clue that what was about to happen had anything to do with me even though I was looking on from the upper area of the dining room. Through my mate and senior maitre d Ken we started off by making sure whatever Al ordered, his portion would be tiny. First, he had the shrimp cocktail …..…everyone else had 5 shrimps, Al got 2….he then ordered the soup……he got a quarter of a bowl.

Now, at this point you have to understand Al is not the sort of guy to say anything, he would never say anything was wrong; he is that sort of wonderful southern gent. When his Caesar salad came though and it was just two lettuce leaves and one crouton I could see the look of “What the hell is this?” on his face but again, nothing was said to the waiter. Then, came his steak. This time we went the other direction and instead of a beautiful piece of prime rib on his plate, he had what I can only call half a cow……it was huge, in fact it was 35 ounces of beef…….still he said nothing.

Then, plan B started. I had bribed this beautiful guest with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries to help me. She was in her early twenties and she was stunning……I mean really WOW……and she walked up to the table and without stopping for a moment, bent down, kissed Al on the cheek and said “Same time tonight, big boy?” and walked off. Al was bright red, Susan was stunned, I was right above him laughing my arse off.

Now I could see Al desperately explaining that he knew nothing about this girl and then ……… along came another beautiful twenty something (the second of my bribed guests and it’s amazing the power of the chocolate strawberry and the ship on a stick). She walked up to Al and as the first guest had done she kissed him and said……my cabin number is 2344……..I will be waiting ….…and she walked off.

I could see Susan looking at Al as if to say….what the %$#@ &^%$#@ is happening. Then, finally along came my third actor who was just as stunning as the first two except this time the stunning guest was called Jake from Honolulu. He is here on his honeymoon and was in the marriage show with mea earlier that day. He’s 6 foot and very muscular and he and his six-pack walked over to Al, kissed him on the cheek and said “Last night you made my toes curl” ……….. and he walked off leaving Al looking as red as a frog.

The night was almost complete but not quite over. That’s because I had primed the audience at Al’s Punchliner Comedy show to do something special for me ……..and they did. As soon as Al delivered his first joke……as one ………….250 people stood up, booed…..and started walking out of the lounge. They came back but as they did Al did something very funny…….he took a white bar napkin from one of the tables and waved it and in a French accent said “John, I surrender.” ………brilliant. I had won the battle………… but I have a feeling the war will continue.

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

P.S You can access the latest FunTimes for the Carnival Victory here.

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.