Smoking In the Frog’s Room

June 7, 2011 -

John Heald

Every day, as sure as I will fart when I heave myself out of bed in the morning, I get a comment here or on the blog from someone who hasn’t received a review card or comment card or whatever the current correct marketing term for it is. And honestly I am getting bloody fed up with it. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s not your fault for wanting one and it’s not Carnival’s fault. Nope, it’s the computer in which the beards have given the job of sending them that’s being the bastard by ignoring you like a Russian ignores the back of a line………any line.

I have finally gotten a most senior beard to listen to me about this and as I was preparing to talk to him I suddenly found myself asking why so many people want to get a review card. I reached this conclusion sitting here in my underpants this morning. You see, the other day I ordered my ticket for my week off and I will tell you more about that later. It was a simple ticket from Marseilles to London booked using my Carnival travel card and using my frequent flyer number.

Yet last night my email in box had along with the usual offer of a bigger thingy and a loan to pay for it, an email from British Airways headlined “customer feedback” except it was actually an exercise in breathtaking audacity. Unlike Carnival’s short and to the point comment card, there were 45 questions spread over four sodding pages and I was told it was very important to the company to know where it was performing well and areas in which it could improve because as a frequent flyer it was important they knew. Well, that’s all very exciting but can British Airways please explain to me why it needs to know me and Heidi’s date of birth, occupation, marital status and our combined household income to ascertain whether the flight leaves on time, the seats were comfortable and the toilets didn’t stink of urine.

Why does it need to know how many and which types of credit cards I have, the ages of my children and whether I own my own home? Why does it use capital letters to emphasise that I should reveal “ALL” the leisure interests and activities that I enjoy and the gobsmacking bollocks of it …… whether I have shares, savings plans and “other investments?” What does any of this have to do with the quality of the in flight meal or if I can get the seat belt around my stomach?

Obviously it’s because they, like so many other companies pass this information onto other companies so that I’ll be blitzed with spam and junk mail. I was surprised that BA didn’t ask how big my thingy was because someone told the company that keeps offering me a bigger one that I am hung like a baby carrot.
The clue is in the small print at the bottom of their review form where you are told that this data may be given to “other reputable organisations who may contact you by mail or phone with information and offers that you might find interesting.” You can tick a tiny box if you don’t want this but the chances of anyone being capable of reading another word by the time they get to question 45 is bugger all.

It’s not just British Airways that doe this you know because every day we end up volunteering personal information while making the simplest of purchases. I have moaned on this blog thingy previously about my wife’s favourite shop Victoria’s Secret and when I do these trips to Miami and other places that she makes me go there for her. Why do the sales people there start interrogating me for my address when I was paying cash for some bras and panties? I once told the lady at the Victoria’s Secret at the Aventura Mall that my name was Micky Arison and my address was the Carnival office address in Miami. She wrote it down without even pausing to think I was talking bollocks. I wonder therefore if Micky Arison was sent a brochure on the summer range of G-strings and stockings.

Maybe consumers feel that it’s pointless resisting such inquisition any more I don’t know. Why do you all want the review cards from Carnival? I don’t know the answer to that but you all do and that’s why I am fighting hard for a way for everybody who wants one to get one. Your opinion counts and I promise we won’t send your personal details to any other companies…….. unless you’re French……in which case we will send it to Bath and Body Works.

Time for today’s Q and A……away we go.

Adele Beverly asked:
John,

I’m planning to bring a group cruising during the summer of 2012 – preferably July. You by far are the BEST cruise director I have ever sailed with, and I’ve been on at least 10 cruises. If I can book your ship – hopefully for the Caribbean – I would be ecstatic! (Did I spell that right?) Do you know where you’ll be next summer (2012?)

John says:
Hello Adele Beverley,

What a brilliant way for me to start today’s Q and A session with such humbling words. I will be on the new ship Carnival Breeze back here in the Med in the summer of 2012 and I hope I will see you there. If not I wish you and your group so much fun and thank you for your loyalty.

Best wishes to all.

John

Grant Taviner asked:

I read with disgust that Carnival cabin stewards do not wash the bath robes at the end of each cruise and just put them back hanging in the closet. The people who wrote on the board actually saw this happen and I won’t be putting the robe on the next time I cruise if I do with you guys.

John says:
Hello Grant Taviner,

And after a great start today’s Q and A back to the world of dreams. Yes Grant, its true we don’t wash the robes in the same way that it’s true we recycle the toilet paper after its been used and true in the same way I would look good in crotchless underpants. In other words — it’s 100% bollocks. Every single bathrobe is washed and every single stateroom gets a new bathrobe at the start of each cruise during the embarkation readiness of the cabins. I hope this eases your concerns and that we will see you again soon.

Best wishes
John

Brad asked:
My DW and I will be cruising on the Carnival Splendor June 12, 2011. She reads your blog everyday…and searches non-stop everything about the Splendor when she gets the chance. I am writing to ask a favor…we will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniv, and her 50th birthday on this cruise. I have already booked the Chef’s table for her, for she is so worth it. This is a much needed vacation we have planned. We will be traveling with our 3 children -DS-14, Ds-10, DD-6. Our DD is a special needs child who we adopted and my Polly has spent many sleepless nights with her and in the hospital….she is a true saint. DD was abandoned and we took her in.

Could you please send something to my wife…as a special gift, she so deserves it. Our booking numbers are (two rooms) ______, and ______, rooms 1416 & 1418. Thank you so much in advance as she will be so surprised.

John says:
Hello Brad,

I think your wife and you deserve this wonderful vacation so much. Thank you for taking in the little one who once abandoned now has a wonderful new home with loving, caring parents. I would be honoured to send her something and please have the very best of times.

Best wishes to you all.
John

Carson 190 asked:
You are once again the subject of discussion on cruise critic today with a lively post full of john heald cheerleaders and john heald dislikers. There are some good points here including the wish for you to stop talking about your bowel movements and being so disrespectful to the French. Suggest then you pay this some attention as everyone on this thread is a carnival customer

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1412376&page=2&highlight=john+heald

John says:
Hello Carson 190,

Just so you know I didn’t read the thread but I hope you are well and if there is anything I can do for you the next time you cruise please do let me know. Can’t write anymore as I need to think of something to write about the French for later in this blog.

Best wishes,
John

Sassie B asked:
John,

My husband and I have a special cruise coming up on the Dream June 25. We are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and deserve a table for 2 by the window with the ships best waiter. We also want to take part in the Newly Wed Game. We are in the cabin 2411 and are both law enforcement officers in Atlanta!!

John says:
Hello Sassie B,

Congratulations on your anniversary and I have asked the maitre d on the Carnival Dream to assist you with your table request. Thanks for all you do and I wish you both a very happy anniversary cruise.

Best wishes
John

Harry Hollis asked:
This is the second time I have sent this!!

John – what’s the story with the Charleston thing? There has been so much in the local press that states that nobody wants Carnival or any other mega ships in Charleston. They are wrong we want you and even a bigger ship but now as a Platinum passenger I am concerned that you will leave. We love sailing out of Charleston. Please tell me your ships are staying.

John says:
Hello Harry Hollis,

I had indeed heard that there was a small group of local people who did not appreciate the benefits having Charleston as a home port. I can assure you we are committed to Charleston and we will continue to berth the Carnival Fantasy which continues to get exceedingly high marks from our guests. Thanks for your loyalty as a Platinum guest.

Best wishes,
John

Mary Barrett asked:
Hi John,

We will be sailing on the Legend June 19, 2011 in cabin 4125. My godson will have just turned 21 June 15, I was wondering if Carnival does anything for a birthday from the week before. We were going to cruise the week with June 15th in it, but Ryan wanted to be 21 for the whole cruise. I can’t wait for the cruise, I love cruising on Carnival!! Thank you!!

John says:
Hello Mary Barrett,

While Carnival does not “officially” do anything for every birthday I will definitely send your Grandson something. I wish you both a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes
John

Melody March asked:
Hi John –

I am booked on the 7/24/11 Carnival Magic cruise along with 7 other of my relatives. It is my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary so it’s a big deal. Two questions:

1) Can I please get a reservation for Chef’s Table on July 27th?

2) I read in the Comments section of your blog, that a CCritics group is meeting at RedFrog Pub? Does the Pub allow kids (of course they won’t drink alcohol!)? We also have a CCritics group for our sailing date – would also like a Meet & Greet at 2:30 pm if possible, and would be honored if you showed up! (They were worried they couldn’t so the meet & greet in that location for the younger people in our group). I myself have a 13 year old….

Looking forward to your response! Enjoying your blog.

Thanks,
Melody

John says:
Hello Melody,

Let’s talk about the Chef’s Table first. Yes I will be very happy to arrange this. Please send me a new post here marked CHEFS TABLE and I will need your state room number and how many spaces you want. Please also include the ship again and sailing date. You will then get an email confirmation from the ship. Please get this to me ASAP. Children are indeed allowed in the RedFrog pub and I have decided to keep the 2:30 pm Cruise Critic Meet and Greet at 2:30pm permanently in the Fun Times. It seems that we are getting a lot of CC groups which is brilliant so in case they want it I will have this permanently marked in the Fun Times. I hope I get to meet you and your group and if there is anything else I can do please let me know.

Best wishes to all,
John

Brandon Dashwood asked:
John,

Can you tell me who the comedians will be on our Victory cruise on June 19? My wife and me love the comedy club and our favorite so far is Big Tony Esposito who we saw on Glory.

Thank you.
Brandon

John says:
Hello Brandon,

Yes, Tony is a very funny man in fact he will be out here with me soon. Here is the complete entertainment guide and as you will see you have 4 very funny comedians including the one and only Happy Cole.

Sun, Jun, 19 San Juan Sail Away Party dep @ 10pm
Mon, Jun, 20 St Thomas Welcome Aboard Show Al Romero/Hank McGauley 7am-5pm
Tue, Jun, 21 at sea City Lights Al Romero/Hank McGauley
Wed, Jun, 22 Barbados Manuel Zuniga Jr. Deck Party 8am-5pm
Thu, Jun, 23 St. Lucia Vrooom 8am-5pm
Fri, Jun, 24 St Kitts Rand Woodbury Dwight Slade/ Happy Cole 8am-6pm
Sat, Jun, 25 St Maarten Carnival Legends Dwight Slade/ Happy Cole 7am-5pm

Hope you enjoy the show.

Best wishes,
John

Kathleen Lyons asked:

Can you tell me if there will be a ship out from Savannah, Georgia? I know the city is pumping money into the port and there will be a state of the art facility ready in 2014. Does Carnival have any plans to be there? We have so much more to offer than Tampa (no history), New Orleans (crime and the dangerous city in America) and Mobile (nowhere to park your car) and as a Carnival fan it would be so fantastic to see a ship there.

Thanks

John says:
Hello Kathleen,

I have seen mention of Savannah on my Facebook page and I know that Carnival is always looking for new home ports. We have a fantastic relationship with Tampa and New Orleans which are very popular ports for “Fun Ship” cruising but we are also always looking for new and exciting homeport options. At this time I don’t know of any plans though for us to berth a ship in Savannah but I will keep you posted of course if this situation changes.

Best wishes,
John

Simon Freijland asked:
John,

I recently read on your blog that you have stopped with the Classical trios on all the Carnival boats. If this is true I have to tell you it is a real shame. I understand that most common Carnival customers could not tell Mozart from Bach or know anything but sad country and rap, there are some of us who loved listening to the beautiful ladies play beautiful music. Why oh why did you do this?

John says:
Hello Simon Freijland,

Yes it is indeed true that we no longer have classical music trios on our ships. We replaced them with either another duo or a soloist who could play a wider variety of music that the majority of our guests prefer. There are certain occasions when yes we do miss them but overall it was absolutely the right thing to do. Walking into the lobby of a Fun Ship cruise at embarkation and hearing Beethoven….. well the two really didn’t go together. I hope this explains why we did this. If you have a follow up please let me know.

Best wishes
John

And that’s all for today.

Time for me to take a break and turn things over to a young lady we haven’t heard from for some time. So hear then is Jaime, ACD and soon to be CD of the Carnival Liberty and another excellent Dear John letter.

June 3, 2011

 

Dear John,

Working for Carnival has made the world seem so much smaller!  It is such an amazing occurrence to be able to Skype with a friend in Australia, while Facebooking with a fellow crew member from the Phillipines, while offering relationship advice to a British buddy via their American cell phone (only on a home port day).  I just flew across the country from San Diego to Miami and sat next to a lady that was born in Japan, she had recently sailed on the Carnival Splendor and she was anxious to share stories of her amazing vacation.  This woman’s total number of plastic surgeries could only rival Joan Rivers, throughout the trip not only did she discuss the lack of movement in her left eyebrow.  She also had the most sincere “surprised face” when she found out that I worked for Carnival Cruise Lines!  It looked similar to her angry and her happy face as well.  Nonetheless, I was proud. During my conversation with Mrs. TroutPout, the couple seated in front of us; Deanna and Chris, were flying home from their honeymoon on the Carnival Magic.  They had an absolutely remarkable trip, and it was mainly because of the fabulous ports of call, the mouthwatering food, the impeccable revue shows…. Oh, and the cruise director… John!  The best part of our conversation was when they were telling me about the hilarious characters in your Welcome Aboard show, this lady Mary who apparently tackled you during the Bedtime Story (ouch), and a couple who was late returning from port… THREE times!  I won’t ruin any surprises for those of you who have not sailed with John, but as I am sure you know, he is quite the comedian! In fact many similar situations happened when I was his assistant cruise director on the Carnival Freedom two years ago.  How coincidental?

This conversation on the plane has gotten me excited to return to work.  Not many people can say that!?  I now sit in a Miami hotel room contemplating how it never ceases to amaze me how the cruise director and the entertainment team can have such a positive impact on the guest’s vacation.  I am also wondering how the people at the front desk made those chocolate chip cookies so incredibly moist!?  I am sure I have mentioned numerous times, but in case you have forgotten, I have always wanted to help lots of people, and just listening to Deanna and Chris talk about how John making them laugh contributed to making their one and only honeymoon nothing short of true bliss is inspiring.  I hope I can have the same affect on our guests, John.  Thank you for being such a great teacher, mentor and sometimes friend.

Kirk and I had a bittersweet vacation.  Some highlights include our two-year anniversary celebration, for which Kirk planned a couple’s massage under the San Diego sunset, followed by a romantic dinner at my favorite restaurant.  He may be old but he is still sweet!  We went on a full day motorcycle ride with all contributions going to support the brave heroes that defend our country.  We took sailing lessons!  Kirk was the captain (refrain from jokes) I was the commander. We were able to catch up with old friends and new friends – including cruise director Todd Wittmer (who is absolutely wonderful if you have never had the chance to meet him).

I will even include getting to say good-bye to my grandmother as a highlight.  I got to visit her in New York before she passed away.  She was hilarious even until the end, telling the doctors in the hospital “I am not sure why I am here, I am not pregnant!”  I was able to tell grandma that I was on the cruise director schedule for late in the summer and she said she was proud of me.  I go into this next contract with hope, humility and excitement.  Within the next five months I will be getting to spend time with Kirk, John and hopefully YOU on the Carnival Liberty, and I will be acting CD on both the Carnival Liberty and the Sensation.  Nearing the closure of my fourth year working for Carnival I must admit I have learned so much about customer service and how a little can go such a long way, and now at age 25 I am beginning to become proud as I grow into being a woman.

Looking forward to sailing with you soon!

Goodbye freedom, Hello Liberty!

 

All the best,

Jaime Deitsch
Assistant Cruise Director

 

Thanks Jaime. I am sure that you will do a brilliant job as CD and that the guests will as always enjoy everything you do. It will be interesting for them to hear my jokes told in a girly Chicgagoish accent. Have fun kiddo.

We are in Naples today and there is a stench in the air and it’s not me. It smells because there is a garbage strike with more than 4,000 tons of garbage lying uncollected on the streets and eight million balls of compacted waste awaiting incineration. My friends here in Naples blame everyone from the Mafia to bad politics and corruption. The army is being sent in but the problem now is where to put the garbage once it’s collected. So for now much remains on the streets and it is a real shame. I obviously have to tell the guests because those who chose to walk into town on their own will met immediately by the sight and the smell of mountains of garbage. That’s why I tell the guests to use Naples as a gateway and head for the garbage free areas of Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast and ahhhhhhh yes…………Capri.

So while the guests are ashore myself, James the ACD and Jimmy the MD are doing yet more entertainment and music schedules. It’s not easy because the beards have made it so every cruise is different (and 12-day cruises have ports in different orders, some with Venice some without. Some going to Dubrovnik some not and always with the ports in different order). This obviously was done because of finding space in the ports.

I remember my first season on the Carnival Liberty in 2006 when we hardly ever saw another ship. Now, regardless what day and where we are, we are never alone and there are always 2 or 3 ships in with us. Such is the popularity of Europe and the fact that guests can see so many different countries without flying and packing each time is why so many cruise lines have ships here this year.

Well I am sorry but I have to talk about my mates the Russians again. For the most part they have been excellent and are having fun. We had one chap who tried to sunbathe naked on Lido deck at 2 am….yep he was discovered naked, fast asleep on a sun lounger…..not sure why, maybe it’s a Russian custom but regardless he was asked to put his clothes on which was difficult because he couldn’t remember where he had put them. It’s a shame there are never cameras there to record in HD and with full Dolby sound a conversation like that between an Indian security officer and Sergei Smirnoff…….it would for sure be comedy gold. Anyway, that aside they have been OK. However, the only personal problem I have had with guests so far was not with my friends from behind the former Iron Curtain…but with a couple from New York.

I was hosting my adventure talk when it happened and on this voyage it meant talking about Monaco, Livorno, Rome, Naples and Messina. Now with the greatest respect to my CD colleagues on other ships in the fleet, there is a huge difference between hosting travel talk about these destinations to a travel talk about other places where you can ummmm………go to the beach and shop………..oh and get your hair braided. You can pretty much cover the entire history and places of interest that these destinations offer in 30 minutes. Whereas I have 45 minutes to cram in as much as I can about these major historical cities. It requires total concentration.

So, there I was, a room full of 1,500 expectant knowledge hungry guests hanging on my every word when from the middle of the theatre I hear the unmistakable sound of static from one of those intolerable bloody-walkie talkie radio thingies. The chap using it was on the fifth or sixth row, talking to his wife on her radio and guess where she was? She wasn’t in her cabin or in the RedFrog Pub or dangling from a bit of string on The SkyCourse……….nope she was in the port side balcony section of the lounge.

Well, obviously I had a bit of fun with him and even though it brought laughter to the room it threw me off my rhythm and made me realize that some people don’t understand when to be quiet. I don’t expect or ask for total silence but having a conversation with your wife on a radio while some fat bloke is trying to tell you about how busy the Vatican is going to be……it’s a bit much. But he was from New York and it’s the law there that even if you are just a few feet from the person you are having a conversation with, you have to pretend like they are a few hundred feet away and turn your talk volume button right to the sodding top. I remember the first time I went into a restaurant in New York and couldn’t believe how loud it was. But it’s not just New York. You see there are folks who lack spatial awareness and will crash into a pole while they’re walking. Now this does not affect the rest of us and is actually quite funny.

But people who lack vocal volume awareness? They’re too busy shouting to notice and the rest of us just have to suffer. Take the movies there you are watching Megan Fox showing of the world’s most beautiful bottom when the woman behind you starts talking about how sexist this movie is. Then you have the right to say: “Sssshhhh if you don’t like it bugger off and have rumpy pumpy with a tree.”

There is another problem as well…….people who get too close to you when they talk. Now I have a staff member here on the Carnival Magic, I can’t say who because they read the blog but he or she has that annoying habit of getting as close as they can to you and speaking as though they have a bull horn implanted inside their tunnel like mouth and it doesn’t help that they have the breath that smells like the inside of a camel’s arse. I am used to it and know not to breathe in while they are talking but the other day I saw this person have a conversation with someone and the look on their face was one of pure horror. This was either because their eardrums had been shattered or because they had been subjected to breath that made the streets of Naples smell like a rose garden.

Anyway, it’s time for me to prepare my travel talk for Marseilles which I will present on the next sea day. Here is what I have so far and this is especially for Carson 190.

France is a very old country with many treasures, such as the Louvre and Euro Disney. Among its contributions to western civilization are champagne, smelly cheese and the guillotine. France has a population of 56 million. Fifty-two million of these drink and smoke (the other 4 million are small children). French men are very romantic, and want rumpy pumpy all the time. Men sometimes have girls’ names like Marie or Michel, and they kiss each other when they meet …..…twice. France’s historical figures are Louis XIV, the Huguenots, Joan of Arc, Jacques Cousteau and Charles de Gaulle, who was president for many years and is now an airport. A tunnel connecting France to Britain beneath the English Channel has been opened in recent years to make it easier for the French government to run away to London during future invasions. France has a large and diversified economy, second only to Germany’s in Europe, which is surprising because the French hardly work at all. If they are not spending four hours dawdling over lunch, they are on strike and blocking the roads with their trucks and tractors. France’s principal exports, in order of importance to the economy, are wine, nuclear weapons, perfume, guided missiles, champagne, guns, grenade launchers, land mines, tanks, attack aircraft, miscellaneous armaments and cheese.

France has more holidays than any other nation in the world. Among its 361 national holidays are: 197 Saints’ days, 37 National Liberation Days, 16 Declaration of Republic Days, 54 Return of Charles de Gaulle in triumph as if he won World War II Single-Handedly Days, 18 Napoleon Sent into Exile Days, 17 Napoleon Called Back from Exile Days, and 2 France is Great and the Rest of the World is Crap Days.

Listen, before I get a resounding bollocking from some Carson 190 who thinks I am anti-French let me tell you that you can bet that someone called Jean Pierre is sitting at his desk in his wife’s underpants and is writing about how pompous and arrogant us Brits are at the end of the day it’s all done with a smile and big dollop of humor. You see there is nothing that the French wouldn’t do for the British and there is nothing the British wouldn’t do for the French………..and that’s what happens………we do absolutely bugger all for each other.

Your Carnival Magic is being labeled by so many as the best looking ship in our fleet and rightfully so. But it’s important to remember that the ship sill needs a crew and here we have 1.200 of the best at sea. And amongst them are a few who have been voted employees of the month and I think it would be great if you could meet them………………….so here they are:

(click for full-size)

Finally today there is this.

Dennis asked:
John,

I just returned from the inaugural voyage of the magic and the ship is magnificent, definitely Carnival’s best. I will be writing a full review on Cruise Critic of which I was part of the Carnival Magic “Believers” roll call. John, I hope you won’t take this the wrong way but I saw you one night smoking a cigar outside the RedFrog and as an experienced cruiser with 24 cruises, 15 with Carnival I think you need to know that sitting there smoking in a passenger area gave off a terrible message to guests. I wanted to come and speak to you but would have been covered in your stinky cigar smoke. I think this is wrong and others I spoke to felt the same. We all had fun and enjoyed meeting you on that last sea day inside the RedFrog which was thankfully smoke free.

John says:
Hello Dennis,

I give up………………I mean……………..I literally………..give up.

 

Goodnight

Your friend
John

http://www.carnival.com/cms/fun/ships/carnival_magic/default.aspx?shipCode=MC&cid=So_John Heald Blog_5349

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.