What’s In Your Suitcase?

June 6, 2011 -

John Heald

The Cloud 9 Spa here on your Carnival Magic has some very interesting treatment options for our guests, including acupuncture which I truly believe helped my Bells Palsy back in 2009, along with teeth whitening and various massage therapies, etc. It’s no wonder that the booking columns are busy each and every day and no wonder our Spa Manager Mia has a smile as wide as my underpants. There is also a treatment called Ionathermie which uses something called faradic and galvanic current to reduce cellulite and comes with a guarantee that you will lose one to eight inches of blob. It really works and I know many a person who swears by it.

Anyway, once the treatment has been explained the guests are asked to take off their clothes and put on a special pair of paper underwear. Now this is because they have to lay on a wet clay and also it conducts the current thingy and……..well I have no sodding clue what happens except you go in like Rosie O’Donnell and come out like Kate Moss and to do this you must wear a pair of paper underpants.

So yesterday I was talking to Mia and she told me that a Russian lady had booked the treatment and there must have been a bit of a language breakdown between the English spa employee and the Russian guest because after telling the guest to change and that she would be right back ……… she returned to find Mrs. Smirnoff wearing the paper underwear………..as a hat…………..yep she had them on her head.

It has been a challenging few days with so many non-English-speaking guests. None more so than for Ken and Kris, the maitre ds. Time it seems means nothing to our Russian friends and they continue to arrive for dinner when their stomachs tell them to rather than their watches. The guests from Kurdistan are having a great time and honestly I have to say they look absolutely amazed at everything. I will write more about them in a future blog because it’s fascinating having them here and I want to see more of them before I do write but so far………..and honestly I say this with respect………….exceeding their expectations is not difficult.

Russians on the other hand are very challenging and very beautiful. The women are stunning, and the men are all huge and all have some sort of Special Forces tattoos — a dagger in a skull, that sort of thing. Some as I said have been coming to dinner really late and some when they want to regardless of an assigned sitting. But as Ken said, “I let them in because I don’t want to buried head down in the galley, with just my feet sticking out of a vat of soup.”

And that’s why I chose not to laugh at what they wear on Lido deck. However, they don’t read the blog (I hope) so I don’t mind telling you they are brilliant funny. Like Speedos, but lots tighter. Still, they were better dressed than their wives. Elsewhere in the world the thong bathing suit is worn by swimsuit models and Calvin the entertainment staff member here on the Carnival Magic. In Russia it is also worn by people who are seven tons or 70 years old.

Look, I am no oil painting and I never judge anyone by their looks but yesterday afternoon I walked across Lido deck to go to lunch and I saw a lady that made me and those around me stop in our tracks. In her 60’s, at least 300 pounds and wearing a thong and as God and various members of the crew as my witness…….she was also wearing nipple tassels. Yep, her bathing top was nothing more than tassels covering her raspberry ripples (Cockney rhyming slang).

But actually there are a group of guests that are even more challenging than Mr. and Mrs. Smirnoff and you know what, I would be a stupid man to say who or where they are from specifically as it would open up a massive can of kick-John’s-arse-again and I just can’t do that. I will say that we would take the nipple tassel, G-rope wearing, line-ignoring KGB-connected Russians any day over a group of guests that have been from the moment they walked onto the ship…….as rude to the crew as you could possibly imagine…….and then some.

It’s a great cruise and having so many international guests here is a challenge but our crew all speak the international language of fun and they speak it fluently which is why the guests are for the most part absolutely having the best of times.

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

Carla & Jim Asked:

I saw that you mentioned on FB (I don’t have a Facebook account, but someone mentioned it on Cruise Critic) on 4/20/11 that the FCC (future cruise certificates?) would go “live on-line” on 4/21/11. Can you give me details, what does that exactly mean? Can we redeem our FCC’s on-line instead of having to mail them in? Please reply.


John Says:
Hello Carla and Jim

Yes indeed, a couple of weeks ago this system went live as the beards would say and you can now redeem your Future Cruise Certificates from the comfort of your own home without having to mail them in. Here is the link for you.


Please let me know if you have any other questions

Best wishes

Adam Gullies Asked:

I need a response… My wife and I returned from our cruise on the Splendor and had asked you to get us a table for two which we got. My complaint is about the Jacuzzis. One family seemed to have control of them every day we were at sea. They would be in the one on deck 10 from early in the morning to late at night and refused to allow anyone else to get in. This spoiled our cruise and I cannot believe that Carnival allows this kind of behavior.

John Says:
Hello Adam Gullies

I am very happy to know that my colleagues Miguel and Shane the maitre d’s were able to arrange your table for two and I am sure Adam you would like me to thank them for you. Thanks chaps. You know, I have never quite understood the whole fascination with Jacuzzis. Sitting in bubbling water clashing knees with semi-naked strangers as we try to “relax” strikes me as faintly ridiculous but each to their own I guess. Anyway, we certainly do not allow anyone to dominate the ones on our ships and I apologise that this happened. I wonder, did you report this to someone on the ship? If you did and nothing was done then again that’s not good and if this is indeed what happened I will investigate this further for you so please let me know. I do hope you had fun and enjoyed one of my most favourite ships. Best wishes to you both


Crystal Schneider Asked:

I sailed with you last year on the Conquest in April and I went back again alas no John but still good times. One special bright spot on my cruise was Ronald our room steward. I have sailed 6 times prior always received great service but Ronald went above and beyond even creating for us a towel animal of his own creation (a bear holding a baby bear) now that’s Carnival spirit! Ronald greeted us by name along with his assistant Ray every time they saw us. I tipped him above and beyond but I was hoping to get him some Carnival recognition for his stellar customer service! I’d love to email you a photo of the adorable Ronald original towel animal as well.

Warmest regards,
Crystal Schneider

Cabin 6481 Conquest
On the April 17th sailing

John Says:
Hello Crystal Schneider

Thanks so very much for taking the time to tell me about Ronald. He sounds like a fantastic chap and bravo to him for making such a difference to your cruise vacation. I have sent this to the ship so that both he and his supervisors can see your words of praise. I would love to see a photo of the towel animal and I hope that one day we will get to see each other again.

Best wishes

Hooch Asked:
Hey Meatloaf,

I managed to smuggle 3 bottles of Rum on the Freedom and am on my balcony drinking now. And I am not alone. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt…ight=smuggling

John Says:
Hello Hooch

Just remember that bar revenue is important and allows us to keep our cruise prices affordable. Just a thought. Hope you had a great cruise.

Best wishes

Waiting4acruise Asked:

Please can you tell me what ship the band Blood Power is on. We had them on the Glory and spent every night dancing to their fantastic music. We are going on the Dream next and hope they will be there. Thanks for all you do.


John Says:
Hello Waiting4acruise

Well actually they are here on your Carnival Magic, Susan, and doing a brilliant job I might add. I had never worked with them before and was recommended them by many so here they are and they as you said fantastic. I am sure you will love the bands on your Carnival Dream as well.

I wish you a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes

Ben Foster Asked:
I recently sailed on the Carnival Ecstasy and had a great time. Thank you for the table for 4 and the champagne and trophy and the note. The cabin steward was excellent as was the wait staff but the highlight was Steve the Cruise Director. His juggling and his violin show in the country production was so amazing, what a very talented man he is. I heard other passengers complaining that he was not a good cruise director but to me he was one of the best we have ever seen. We are booked on the Triumph next and cant wait.

John Says:
Hello Ben Foster

I love hearing compliments about my colleagues and none more so than reading ones about Carnival’s longest serving CD Steve Cassel. He is a unique individual and his talents as you said are quite extraordinary. It is no surprise to me that you found him to be so brilliant and I am sure he will be thrilled when I send this to him. I am glad you had fun and congratulations on booking your next cruise.

Best wishes,

Christine Asked:
Hey John,

We are going on our 3rd carnival cruise this august.  It will be our second on the dream.  We are taking the whole family (16) of us most are first time cruisers & very excited.  My son loves circle c & his cousin is looking forward to it as well.  We are bringing my 85 y.o. grandmother  & her 77 y.o. cousin, neither want to get off the ship & my grandmother is a worrier (where is everyone, are they ok, where is everyone, will they be back on the ship in time, are they ok? 🙂 ) My question is are you looking into an adult version of circle c so that we know grandmother is ok & taken care of if everyone else wants to go on an excursion?

Thanks alot

John Says:
Hello Christine

Thanks you for taking your whole family on their Carnival Dream. You know, one of the things I love is to see generations of a family cruising together and I think it’s brilliant that you are doing so. I don’t think we have any plans to open Circle C for adults but I am sure that Grandma will have a wonderful time and if there is anything I can do for her please let me know before you cruise either here or on Facebook. I wish you all the most wonderful time.

Best wishes

DDP Baltimore Asked:

Doubt you will publish this as you only seem to post the comments saying how perfect everything always is. Me and my brother cruised on the Pride out of my home city and it was the worst experience we ever had. It was cold, the ship rocked so much me and my brother and everyone else was throwing up. The worst part was the food which was the most disgusting I have ever eaten. Worst cruise ever.

John Says:
Hello DDP Baltimore

Thank you for your comments and I am sorry the weather was not good but I am sure you understand we cannot control the weather or the sea conditions. As for the food, well I am sorry that you did not find the food to your taste although I have to respectfully disagree as many thousands of very satisfied Carnival guests would agree with me when I say that the food we serve is excellent and for the price we charge for the cruise……quite astonishing. And if you really want to taste the worst food you have ever have come over to my house and try my home made Shepherd’s Pie made with real shepherd, not to mention spotted dick made with real …… never mind. I make light of this only because I hope that you will remember the fun you had and that you will consider coming back with us again so you can experience more fun and hopefully, sunshine and calm seas…

Best Wishes

David Wyatt Asked:

After the Carnival Spirit is based in Australia, will I be able to book it through the regular carnival.com web site or on another carnival ship that has the future cruise desk? Or with it be totally separate from the booking procedures we know today?


John Says:
Hello David Wyatt

We are all very excited about the Carnival Spirit heading down under and I hope to be on part of her journey. I asked a beard about your question and the answer is that once we open the cruises from Sydney that you will be able to book a number of channels, including carnival.com. Hope I see you there, I can only imagine how fun the atmosphere will be on that ship.

Best wishes

Joanne Matchett Asked:
Table reservation for booking number _______. I just saw that you organise table requests. I am sailing on the Valor on Sunday 12 with my husband son and daughter and want a private table by the window. My son Jacob will be celebrating his graduation from High school where he is a straight A student. Can you send him a gift as I have read that is also an option we have. This is our first Carnival cruise but we have 8 other cruises with your competition lines!!!!!!!!!!

John Says:
Hello Joanne Matchett

I will certainly ask the maitre d on the Carnival Valor to do all he can to get you a table for the family. You must be so proud of your son and I will certainly send him something on your behalf. I am sure that this first experience of a Carnival fun cruise vacation will not be your last. Have a great time.

Best wishes

Missi Asked:
When is bg5 and what ship?

John Says:
Hello Missi.

Good question because I often write BC5 instead of bloggers cruise number 5 which would explain that the one forthcoming will be the 5th. It will be held here, on your Carnival Magic on March 4 2012. It’s a chance to meet your fellow blog readers and enjoy some special private events, gifts and for me to spend time with all of you. It’s always brilliant fun and I hope that we may see you there. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes


That’s all for today. You know, the blog views continue to climb and we average between 15,000 and 18,000 views per day and are rapidly approaching 11 million total views. Now a wise beard told me the other day that Facebook and the blog are helping each other and that the views are interconnecting and beardy of course is right. But also I have noticed that the questions I am answering these days are a much more mixed bag than before we changed the blog format to the new one and since I started waffling on Facebook.

There are also some strange ones and I don’t mean strange as in the people who write them but strange in their requests. Just these past weeks we have had 200 bibles, lamb’s blood, tables by windows on the side the sun sets and butler services for an alarm clock dog. I have been called fat, chubby, obese and today rather brilliantly “Meatloaf.” Then there is the emotion people put into their questions and on some subjects one can totally understand why……….I just wish they would check the facts before writing. Take this one for example:

Mike Benaglio Asked:

I have given up with Carnival and if I had the money to waste I would cancel my cruise. I have written to Micky Arison and Gerry Cahill and to you as well about the September 11 cruise from New York on the Miracle. I had asked politely for the ship to sail late so that the Cruise Critic roll call I am part of may see the ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Maybe the fact that I have had no reply shows that Carnival and its three leading public figures do not care about my request or in fact care about the 10th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack the world has ever seen. There are many of us on Cruise Critic who feel betrayed by this and my last resort is to get onboard and stand at the gangway asking passengers to sign an immediate petition to be presented to the captain before the ship departs. I think it will be extremely bad publicity for you if this is not done. Think on that.

John Says:
Hello Mike Benaglio

Well, first of all let me thank you for writing and before I continue let me also say that adding my name to Mr Cahill’s and Mr Arison’s as one of Carnival’s three leading public figures is ummmm ……….flattering but not quite correct.

Adding me to that list would be like the Three Tenors being Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and 50 Cent. Or LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and my nephew Luke who plays basketball for his school team in the UK. Think of a giant billboard with three naked bottoms side by side …….. Megan Fox’s, Angelina Jolie’s and Judge Judy’s. My name should never be uttered in the same way as you should never say Ferrari, Lamborghini and Yugo those three refreshing drinks Coke, Pepsi and yak urine. You get my point I think.

Now onto the serious business and the emotional topic of the 10th anniversary of September 11. Now I have received a request in a letter and on Facebook from others in the Cruise Critic group about this although I can’t remember who they were from. The fact that the chairman of Carnival Corporation & plc or the president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines have not replied should absolutely not be taken that they do not care because to suggest that is quite honestly ridiculous. I am sure if they saw my name on your e-mail or letter or however you wrote to us they expected me to answer and I apologise for not doing so.

So, let’s talk about your request. I have this past weekend been talking to the senior beards in charge of deployment and those that work closely with the various port authorities. Now obviously it’s much more complicated than the captain deciding that the ship will sail late that day.  That needs permission and planning and that is exactly what is going on behind the scenes at the moment. Providing our guests an opportunity to reflect the September 11 attacks in New York is certainly something that we’re hoping to do and we are working with all the local authorities to try to make this happen. However, please understand that there will be heightened security of course that day and many logistical challenges. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on whatever is ultimately decided. Rest assured, we are doing all we can to make this happen and I promise to keep you and everyone else informed.

Best wishes


I was going to bang on about waiting to get the facts before lambasting me and Carnival about not caring but the fact of the matter is that the subject of 9/11 does bring up waves of emotion which I hope is the reason that Mike Benagilo’s post was written as it was.

Let’s take a break and have a look at a video sequence of the new and extraordinary magic show here on the Carnival Magic.

Wow. Yep, it’s a brilliant show and congratulations to all those listed at the end for giving this ship such outstanding entertainment. I can’t wait for you to see it…………live.

I still can’t get over the comment about the dog that can detect when it’s owner is having a sleep apnea attack and barks or whines or does a piddle on their head to wake them up……….poor cabin steward. Seriously, that is one clever if not slightly pampered dog. And the day is dawning when I will have to give in and allow Heidi to get one. I promised her that she could and then Kye came along and she forgot. But now the subject is back and bigger than ever. You see Heidi feels we need a dog because when I am not there she and Kye are in the house alone and Harriett the Hamster and the two goldfish are not exactly going to protect her from a would-be thief. So she has been looking and sending me photos and prices of German shepherds, the dog I mean, not photos of a German shepherd called Hans, naked in the hills of Deutschland surrounded by sheep and holding his huge staff.

And bugger me………do you know how expensive a dog is? Not long ago, you bought a dog for $30, taught it to sit and fed it a can of food twice a day. Do you know how much a German shepherd pedigree thingy costs? Go on, take a guess. Nope: you’re miles off because the price of what is basically a mongrel is $2,000. And I’m sorry but how can something that barks and craps cost the same as a Sony 60-inch Plasma TV. Of course, it looks as cute as cute could be but in the web site photos, but then you look at photos of it from about one year on and it’s the size of a baby elephant. This thing won’t chew your underpants……. it swallows them whole.

$2,000 is just the price to drive the dog away. Because if you’ve spent that much on a dog, then it’s wise to get it insured, and they will insist that in addition to the collar it has a microchip inserted in its skin, so it can be tracked by satellite and the star ship Enterprise. And this, it turns out cannot be inserted by an Eddie the Electrician the chap who fixes the television…. apparently you’ve got to get a vet, which costs another million dollars.

I haven’t finished yet. You’ve also got to factor in the fact that dogs like a German shepherd probably will bite your hand of if you give it barbecued horse for dinner. They want designer food, which is made from puffin’s ears and for main course the lightly fried scrotum of a gazelle. Heidi also told me that it will need a special bed, special vitamins and a yacht moored in Portofino with a huge plasma TV playing 24 hour doggy rumpy pumpy movies. That’s why the fish is about to overtake the dog as the world’s number one pet, because these days running a dog is more complicated and more expensive than the Carnival Magic.

And to finish today a story that needs one of those “Yes, this is true I swear” kind of starts…..Because it is. Here is what happened as taken directly from our incident report.

848201479A Cabin: —-Booking#: ——-Added-Changed: 06/03/11 – 06/03/11


At 6:25am GSA was called from the terminal by GSS ______ who asked me to contact cruise director to page Mrs______ from state room________ as one of her suitcases was vibrating and they would not load into the truck to go to the airport (zone tag 2) for security reasons until guest had opened the suitcase. Guest went ashore and identified her suitcase and turned off the item that was making the suitcase vibrate.

I think it’s brilliant that the guest services lady didn’t want to write what the offending item was in her report and of course one has to feel so sorry for the guest who had to open her suitcase in front of Manuel the Barcelona security guard and turn it off.  Some of you may have not worked out what it was that making the noise and it gives me no ummmm……pleasure ……….to say I am afraid this is one you will have to work out………..on your own.


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.