New Kids On The Beach

May 18, 2011 -

John Heald

Here is an interesting comment from the incident report…

From: MAGIC MAITRE D

Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 10:35 AM

To: MAGIC HOTEL DIRECTOR:MAGIC CRUISE DIRECTOR

Cc: MAGIC HOUSEKEEPING MANAGER: MAGIC CHEF: MAGIC GUEST SERVICES

Subject: Incident at breakfast

Please not that approx 30 Asian guests form the ________ group were seen this morning at breakfast making sandwiches and putting food in plastic containers. I tried to explain that they should not be doing this but they continued to do it saying “no English” and they all left with extra food. They took Danish, bread, cheese, ham and lots of boiled eggs. I will monitor tomorrow. Thank you and kind regards.

Well, there you go. I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that the food prices in Venice were outrageous and I guess my friends from Canada felt the same and decided to take a packed lunch for our second day here rather than pay 3,000 Euros for a plate of sodding spaghetti.

Now guests are not allowed to take food off the ship but my question is whether this is really a big deal? As I sit here, in my underpants I am obliged to think about the fact that I have done the same in hotels……and come on…….so have you right? I have traveled a lot as you know and I remember that on those long familiarization trips I took when we first came to Europe and Heidi and I were flying and busing all over Europe that we would “steal” food from the hotel breakfast buffet in case we didn’t have time to stop for lunch. I never really gave it two thoughts, I mean, what do hotels and what do we as a cruise ship expect if there is lunch time food out at breakfast ……….cheese, ham, egg etc. And that’s what these guests were thinking I am sure……it means they can picnic in St Marks Square and not worry.

But as I said, I have smuggled food in and out of hotels. While I still believe that our drink prices are ok, it is ridiculous what some hotels have the nerve to charge for a Diet Coke and a bottle of French water that has been running through the hills of Evian for 200 years. Well if that’s the case why does it have a sodding expiration date on it then Pierre? The last time I looked, a hotel that will remain nameless (actually, no it won’t, it’s the Alex in New York where me and the beards stayed for the New Year’s Eve thing) wanted $6.50 for a Diet Coke, and $7 for a tube of bloody Pringles…..and that’s the half tube not the full one. So that’s why I pooped (spelt correctly) out with a my carryon bag, found a deli and 7 and 11 thingy and stocked up on all the essentials: water, chips, Diet Coke and some Latvian magazines…… the movies are too expensive and besides Mr. Cahill doesn’t like it when he sees “Big Latvian Jugs 4” on my expense sheet.

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

Meg Norris asked:
Dear John, PLEASE REPLY

I love reading the blog (except the parts where people treat you rudely — why not ignore them?)

Just a question/suggestion for the Beards: Is it possible for Carnival to set up meet-and-greet sessions for young people aged 18-20 at the beginning of cruises? Even better would be having occasional activities especially for this age group, who are too old for Club O2, but still in some ways “kids.” We will on the Valor in August with an 18 year old son, and it would be great if he could connect more easily with other people his age. Today’s young adults are tomorrow’s family cruisers, so why not hook them now?

Have a great day!

Meg

John says:
Hello Meg,

Thanks for the kind words and I appreciate you support of the blog thingy. You know, we have a met and greet scheduled on the first night of every ship for the 18 to 20 year olds and I will make sure we continue to have them by reminding my colleagues how important this group of guests are for the reasons you so correctly stated.

The problem is…..attendance. Reports from across the fleet are that few 18 to 20 year olds come to the activities we arrange. I think it’s fair to say the program we have on board needs some improvement. Now we will continue to do our best to organize activities for this group but it’s obvious that this age group is difficult to understand, and don’t want to meet new friends on a structured basis. We’ll have to do some additional research into this. If your son has any observations into this or indeed any other readers with family this age of any readers who are themselves 18-20, please let me know. I hope you have a wonderful cruise and if you need anything else please let me know.

Best wishes,

John

Kevin Oates asked:
John please reply

I still have a question about the Chef’s Table considering the answer to this review in your question today. We do not drink alcohol and so I am confused if that is the only drink available unless we pay more or have to keep saying no. When I asked before you said that other drink would be available. Responses I have seen seem to give a different reality on the ship. So I am wondering about what is the policy from the beards. We have 5 going to this dinner and so it is a lot so to only have wine or to be paying more. My concern if this is a problem then maybe we should reconsider. I appreciate all your work for us in answering my questions and getting us the reservations. It is a special activity for us since it is our 30th anniversary.

John says:
Hello Kevin Oates,

My apologies if I am not understanding your post as I should Kevin but I think you are stating that if the price of The Chef’s Table could be lowered for those not drinking wine? It’s a fair question and I asked the vice president directly and his answer is that there are no plans to change the price structure at present. I should point out that he had agreed to remind every ship today that if guests do not drink that they are given the choice of unlimited sodas and non alcoholic cocktails. If this has not been happening it absolutely should have been and will from today I am assured. I hope this answers your question and if you have a follow up or need me to clarify anything I remain here at your service.

Best wishes,

John


Henry O asked:

John Message for his reply

I will be sailing on the Trans Atlantic crossing on the Magic and on Sunday October 31 will want to conduct a service. Please provide me with the following: microphone, lectern, piano player for hymn singing. I shall expect a big congregation so I suggest we have an 11 am service in the big show theatre. John, I am setting time out of my vacation for this and although I do not expect any payment I will ask you to provide me with complimentary shore excursions as was applied during my Holland America voyage through the Panama Canal. I will send you the list of my choices shortly. As I mentioned in a previous letter to you and the blog I am setting time for you for some personal guidance with me so that you too can be washed in the blood of the lamb.

Thank you John

John says:
Hello Henry O,

Thank you so much for offering to conduct a church service during our voyage to Texas. I will submit your offer to my friends in Miami as they need to give permission. If they give permission then I will look at the schedule of events and see what we can do regarding where the service will be held. I will advise you as to what they say and thank you so much for thinking of our guests and of me.

Best wishes,

John


Lee Carter asked:

John,

Just so you know, I had asked on here and on Facebook for a gift to be sent to my girlfriend during our cruise on Ecstasy because she graduated college. By the day before we got back to Galveston she had gotten nothing and I had to go to the front desk office and ask for the gift which made me very embarrassed. We ended up with a cheap bottle of champagne at 7pm and that was it. I don’t know what happened whether it was your fault or not but my girlfriend left the ship heartbroken because I promised her something special would be sent to her. Wanted you to know that you let me down.

John says:
Hello Lee Carter,

I am very sorry you feel this way and I apologise that this happened. I either did not see your request or my colleagues on the Carnival Ecstasy did not follow through with the request. Either way I apologise that it was left to the last night and I hope you toasted your girlfriend’s graduation and the wonderful cruise you just had.

Best wishes to you both,

John

Linda C asked:
Hello Mr Fatman,

That got your attention didn’t it 😉 I will be on the Magic with you and wanted to make sure you responded to this. I will be traveling with the DH and we want a table for 2 for the first time in 4 cruises with Carnival. Can you do this for me please for state room 8344. Also it’s our 25th wedding anniversary hint hint!!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Linda C,

I have asked the maitre d for your table for 2 Linda and he will do all he can to help you. If you leave me a note at the guest services desk I will see what I can do to help you celebrate 25 years together.

See you soon and best wishes,

John

Annie Sargent asked:
Hello John and staff,

We’re booked for an upcoming Magic cruise and very much looking forward to it. There are two 13yo in our party and they’d like to know what hours SportsCourt is going to be open, particularly the ropes area, the basketball court and the water slides. Are these area open while the ship is docked or only while at sea?

Thanks!

John says:
Hello Annie Sargent,

I hope you are all getting excited about the cruise and this wonderful ship that will take you to so many fantastic destinations. Now should you not want to go ashore the SportSquare will be open all day from 9 am – 6 pm and the water park has the same hours. The mini golf opens until 9 pm and the basketball court closes at 6 pm as it’s over a restaurant so we unfortunately have to close it due to noise concerns. It’s a fantastic area that I know your teens will love. See you soon.

Best wishes,

John


Woodbutcher asked:

John……..Please Reply.

We just got back (3/26) from the Western Caribbean on Carnival Dream. Overall, everything we just delightful (although for us, we prefer the smaller Liberty or Valor). We did the Behind the Fun Tour and it was totally a fun tour (save those 4 flights of stairs we had to climb near the end).

Anyhow we have a few things we would like for you to comment on. We were “herded” into the waiting room at the port like cattle. We got to the port early in hopes of finding a waiting area similar to that in Miami (couches and lots of room). I could somewhat tolerate the small chairs, but the walkways were non- existing with folks facing each other. Just a bit too damn cozy. The saving grace was, we only had to wait ~1/2 hour to board the boat.

John says:

Hello Woodbutcher,

There is no doubt that our terminal building in Miami sets the standards for embarkation and I know that other home ports cannot compare. Still, we need to do better and I have sent your comments to the embarkation director so she can see your thoughts on this. I am sorry that this happened and thank goodness as you said, you didn’t have long to wait before you boarded the ship. Please accept my apologies and I am glad that you had a wonderful time. Please let me know if there is anything else you need.

Best wishes.

John

JLZ asked:
John, your blog has given to lots of debate about if it’s a good thing or not over on Cruise Critic.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1402552&highlight=john+heald+is+not+the+answer

You should pay attention to one comment from H82seaUgo that says “I go there less and less each week due to the stupidly of some post/requests. They will eventually be his downfall. Just hope he realizes it before the fall from grace. And as long as people repost the interesting stuff and pictures, none of us have to go there anymore. And he is right. Your blog has gone from mildly interesting to becoming a joke in the industry. If I was you I would stop. Read the link I sent you and you will see what people are saying. Sometimes it’s better to jump before you are pushed.

John says:
Hello JLZ,

I won’t tell you I read the link because I honestly didn’t. The only thing I want to say is that the number of views of each blog I post is on the rise with between 12,000 and 18,000 for each blog and more than 10 million total views so far. I guess this must mean I am doing something right. However, you are correct when you say that sometimes it’s better to stop while you are ahead and certainly if those views start to drop then I will consider my options. It can’t go on forever; I understand that, nothing ever does.

Best wishes.

John


Michael Stegbauer asked:

John,

Perhaps you could get this in front of the correct person: since I booked our cruise on Spirit 6 weeks ago I have been struggling to get my twins’ past guest numbers associated to the reservation. I’ve talked to 8 or 10 people in guest services. Nothing gets fixed and I get to start over.

NOW *my* past guest number has been disassociated from me on the website and I am unable to re-add it. SO FAR the reservation still shows my Platinum status.

What I’d like:

(1) Somebody who will OWN this issue until it’s fixed.

(2) That person will follow the issue and let me know the status, rather than my having to chase this issue for another couple months.

(3) I’d also like an assurance that when the underlying IT system is fixed, my children will be given all the credits they have accumulated. At this point it appears I’ll be going though this mess with every cruise.

My additional contact info is in my profile on carnival.com

Thanks,

Mike

John says:
Hello Michael Stegbauer,

I appreciate you letting me know about this and I have asked one of my colleagues to contact you today to see what can be done. I am sure that we can get this taken care of. I wish you all a wonderful cruise and someone will be in touch very soon.

Best wishes,

John


Derek Blatley asked:

Hello John,

So excited about our first ever cruise. My partner and I will be on the Dream on May 21 and she is worried about one thing. She is a rather fluffy lady and I am fluffy two. I read that the dining hall has chairs and booths and as we both weigh over 380 pounds we won’t fit in the booth or a chair with tight arms. I would laugh this off if it happened but my wife Andrea is very sensitive. We love your Facebook updates and this blog so we are asking you for your assistance if you can. Our cabin is 1439. Can I also ask if the ship has a movie theatre as we both love movies? Thank you John and we wish you were going to be on the boat with us.

Derek and Andrea

John says:
Hello Derek and Andrea,

I can feel your excitement as you prepare for your first cruise and what a ship you have chosen in your Carnival Dream. Please don’t worry about the dining room seating as I have asked the maitre d to make sure you are at a table with comfortable chairs for you both. The ship has a huge screen on Lido deck called the Seaside Theatre and this is where you will be able to relax and watch movies under the stars which I know you will both enjoy. So have a wonderful time and I have a feeling this will be your first cruise of many.

Best wishes to you both,

John

Seif el nokaly asked:
Dear John,

My name is seif el nokaly from Egypt. I had my first cruise ever on carnival splendor for my honey moon with you as the cruise director last October… I am now planning another cruise by the second half of June… The question is, which cruise ship will you be on by that time, because it was one of our most aspects is to have you as our cruise director…

Thank you, and a fan of yours,

Seif el nokaly from Egypt

John says:
Hello Seif el Noakaly,

It is an honour to read your posting and I have fond memories of you both. I am here on your Carnival Magic in Europe for the rest of the season and it would be wonderful if you and your good lady could join us. I hope you are both well and of course I hope to see you both soon.

Best wishes,

John

That’s all for today. Now, I have actually pretty much caught up with the questions here on the blog. This has happened for two reasons. Most importantly I got some help from a group of very special people in the office. They took generic questions and ones that could be responded to by someone other than me and took care of them. I am so grateful to them for doing this and without them I would still be weeks behind.

Also, a lot of people have gone to posting questions and requests on Facebook instead of here on the blog which is also fine and has been a factor in me getting caught up. The number of comments each blog gets has stayed the same but the new format Eric the Beard has given our blog has also enabled him and the other beards to sort through the questions and the comments easier. So, I am pretty much caught up here and try each day to do the same on Facebook as well. I remain here at your service should you need me.

Let’s take a break and meet two department heads who manage the two largest departments on board…………here then are the Housekeeping Manager and the Food and Beverage Manager.

Name: Niksa Pelic
Title: Housekeeping Manager

Please tell us where you are from and your journey with Carnival Cruise Lines thus far.

I was born in a 1,700-year-old town in the heart of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. After graduating high school of agriculture in 1998, I decided to travel and work on cruise ships and began my career as a stateroom steward. My first company was Renaissance Cruise Lines before moving to Carnival in 2001. I changed to management and started a new career. In the last 10 years with Carnival, I have sailed with eight different ships, set up Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic from the shipyard and I’m looking forward to the brand new Breeze.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The fact that I am away from my family for so long.

And what is the most rewarding part?

I would say it’s when at the end of the day I see smiles on my crew’s faces and only then I know that “All is good, Niksa”

If you could do any other job working onboard what would it be?

Cruise director, of course

What is your favorite port you have ever been to?

Dubrovnik

How do you relax when you are onboard and off work?

I play soccer on deck with my mates or just walk around in one of the ports

What is your favorite movie and what music do you listen to?

My favorite movie is Shrek and I listen to pop music

What do you miss the most?

I miss my home, my fiancée, and her food and attention!

 

Name: Ivaylo Hristov (Ivo)

Title: Food and Beverage Manager

Please tell us where you are from and your journey with Carnival Cruise Lines thus far.

I am from Bulgaria, was born in a small city by the Danube River, finished foreign languages school and after that graduated as bachelor in international tourism and business relationships in the city of Varna. I was working in many areas of the catering business while studying and after graduation, last was managing a club in the heart of Varna city for couple years. In 2002 joined Carnival as patissier, in 2004 moved again to food and beverage management as management trainee and worked my way up through asst F&B manager, bar manager, senior asst F&B manager to F&B manager since 2010

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I enjoy it all and like challenges

And what is the most rewarding part?

The simple “thank you” from a crewmember after you resolve an issue for him or her and put a smile on his/her face. And my paycheck!

If you could do any other job working onboard what would it be?

Hotel director

What is your favorite port you have ever been to?

Warnemunde, Germany. I have been too many places all over the world but this is truly my favorite

How do you relax when you are onboard and off work?

I really don’t have any particular hobbies and really enjoy my work on board.

What is your favorite movie and what music do you listen to?

I have seen many but if I have to specify some – Underworld Trilogy, The One, The Forbidden Kingdom, Resident Evil; any kind of music

What do you miss the most about home? t

The freedom to travel around the country at my own leisure and speed, my fishing trips, the BG nature

As you can see both Ivo and Niksa were promoted from within the company, a strong tradition that Carnival has always believed in and both deserve huge recognition for the brilliant work they have done during the start up of their Carnival Magic.

So we were supposed to bring you some much awaited news tomorrow but it has been delayed for one week due to…….well I don’t know really……..it has something to do with computers and IT and as it was it being explained to me I feel asleep. Anyway, I do know that it’s worth waiting for and while I can’t tell you what it is I can tell you it’s not changes to the Platinum program or dress codes or smoking or my underpants but instead is something to do with where something is going to be. So sorry for the delay but please start spreading the news that we are leaving the date and are going to make a brand new start of it on May 26.

Carnival has now developed a brilliant relationship with Rose Tours and a couple of weeks ago they produced their third cruise with New Kids On The Block. This time it was a bit different because it included their first ever concert at stunning Half Moon Cay.

Now we have to remember that this was done on an island. There were no beer bellied roadies in their 18 wheeler trucks setting up all the equipment……nope this was done by Carnival’s in house production team led by Tim Cabral whose hard work and dedication always insures that these huge concert cruises we present are always a massive success.

Here is what he had to say to the senior beards at Carnival about what happened:

We produced one of the largest group concerts and we did it all on an ISLAND! It was an incredible concert, and I want to “Thank” Everyone involved. This was an undertaking that was months in the making, and was a HUGE Success! This was the combined effort of a very talented group if people.

Especially…..

The Fascination tech team who built the stage 2 days before the concert!

Kevin Cartwright, thank you for all your help on the island, this would be impossible without you!

Rob King, Chris Woycke, and Tim Jacobs for all your incredible help with logistics, and work on the Island!

Most important, Mr. James Keaton, literally this concert was a success due to your incredible talents with our Sound Systems

Not only did the almost 3,000 guests enjoy the concert, the bands management, and the guys themselves were thrilled with how it went off!

Tim and the people mentioned are the behind the scenes people who never ever get the praise they deserve………..until now.

So one of the huge improvements here on your Carnival Magic is the fact that each room has two 110 sockets, the first ship in the fleet to have this and when you have PlayXboxes, Raspberry’s Eyephones and leaf blowers to charge then two obviously is better than one. But we still have issues …………….as you will see.

From: MAGIC GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 5:37am
To: MAGIC CRUISE DIRECTOR
Cc: MAGIC ASSISTANT CRUISE DIRECTOR; MAGIC GUEST SERVICES; MAGIC GUEST SERVICES MANAGER; MAGIC GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR
Subject: Stateroom – Meeting with John

Good Afternoon,

Please be advised that Mr. ——- from Stateroom ——– would like to meet and speak personally with John. I tried to get more information but no luck. Can you please give him a call?

Thanks & Regards
Federica
Guest Services Supervisor

I had no idea what this guest wanted and that’s never a good thing because it’s always nice to be prepared. But what I did know is that this chap was British because it was the same cabin who I had spent 30 minutes listening to about how he hated the decor of the ship, his fellow cruisers and the food.

So what was it this time? Well, it was the power outlet. He wanted to charge his camera and couldn’t because it was a US plug not a British one. Now, compared to Mrs. Rain Mamm yesterday, this discussion was very civilized but nonetheless annoying. He expected us to provide an adaptor for him and when he was told we didn’t have a British to American adaptor he demanded a meeting with me and refused to leave the lobby area this morning until he had one.

And if you note the time on the email……he was there at 5:37am. So at 7am this morning my arse was in the lobby and why? Why ask for me and demand to speak to me? I am the entertainment chap, the fat jolly funny bloke not the sodding chief electrician. So there I was listening about how if he had been on Cunard an adaptor would have been presented to him on a pillow made of peacock scrotum. Halfway through my bollocking I simply said “Sir, would you like to borrow an adaptor?” He did, I gave him mine. The end! 7 am………….oh FFS!

There is as I said the other day on Facebook, nothing worse than a British snob………..except a smelly French person of course. But, I kind of have some sympathy for him because with all the traveling I do I can sort of sympathise with him. Yes, he should have brought his own adaptor but I will tell you this. If I was walking down the beach at Half Moon Cay and stepped on a bottle and a Geniethingy appeared granting me three wishes, after world peace and an Aston Martin filled with cash and Megan Fox’s bottom my third wish would be that the world had a universal socket for everything electrical. How is it that in today’s world where we have incredible medical procedures that save lives and can build a ship like your Carnival Magic ……. why can’t the world have the same way to get electricity out of the sodding wall?

I guess this wasn’t a problem when all I traveled with was a comb and some hemorrhoid cream but now I have a laptop dancer, the raspberry, the cell phone, and other electronic devices that means that when I travel I have to do so carrying a vast array of adaptors. So many in fact that I look like Jules Verne and all that’s missing is Ketut my manservant. Of course, all these wires and batteries and adaptors are just perfect in today’s “he has wires in his carry on he must be Bin Bastard, the terrorist” and therefore I will be sure to be searched and enjoy the feel of latex.

It would be wonderful if one as one plug fits all but considering the world can’t even come together on toilets then I am sure this is something that will never happen. Look at where I am today, Venice, Italy. There are many restaurants that still have that awful toilet I featured a few weeks ago. How is it possible…….that in some areas in Italy you can park your Ferrari outside a very expensive restaurant and walk to your favorite table wearing your hand-made Armani suit and should the call of nature come just before your spaghetti arrives…you have to crap in a hole.

So, it’s been an eventful couple of days. I have leant adaptors and done laundry for a lady because it rained. There were some disbelievers that doubted that I did indeed put a pair of my underpants in with her wash……well I did I promise I did and so far Rain Mamm has not returned them. This means she has either not seen them yet……..has an underpants fetish……. or is using them as a hammock on her balcony.

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.

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