Save Me

June 9, 2011 -

John Heald

This morning as the staff came in to the office for a meeting I noticed that one of them, my PA Mel, was reading a book called “100 Things To Achieve Before You Die.” I had a look at this quickly and it was full of the usual bollocks such as seeing the pyramids and showering naked under a waterfall, joining the mile high club and bungee jumping in a thong. You know, I have often thought about writing a book based on the blog thingy and if I ever get around to having the time to do this I will also write one called “100 Things You Shouldn’t Sodding Well Waste Your Time On Before You Die”……because apathy is my specialist subject.

Here are just a few:

1. Drink 5 tequila slammers at Carlos and Charlie’s in Cozumel. The most overhyped drinking experience ever, which merely makes people pull a stupid face before, eventually, vomiting over their best friend and looking a total twit as they try to walk down the pier back to the ship.

2. Have a consultation with a “life coach.” Unless, that is, you want to sit on a couch listening to someone charge $300 an hour for stating the bleeding obvious.

3. Be in Times Square at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Yes, Carnival got some great publicity out of it and it was a true honour for me. But why any other bugger was there I have no idea ……….. unless you really enjoy drunken jollity and being forcibly kissed by strangers with breath straight from Satan’s underpants while freezing your bollocks off.

4. See the Sex and the City movies. That’s two and a half hours of my life I’ll never get back

5. Eat at Harry’s Bar in Venice. Has anywhere been so gobsmackingly overrated? Only go if some other bugger is paying

6. Attend a spin class at Spa Carnival. The horror, the horror

7. On elegant night ask the captain “If you’re here who is driving the boat?” You are not the first person to ask so don’t do it but if you do the captain should have the right to punch you in the face.

8. Telling me I am fat and obese and that you love me, you really love me when all you want to do is sell me some bloody diet pills

9. Try to construct anything from IKEA unless you have a degree in physics.

10. Call Carnival’s Special Needs Desk and tell them your cocker spaniel Ruby is a medical service dog and she needs to cruise with you to warn you and those around you with a bark …….. when you are about to crap yourself.

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

Karen L asked:
John, please answer, if you can.

I just booked my 41st Carnival cruise, the 9/30/12 transpacific sailing on the Carnival Spirit (cabin 4206). Cruise # 39 is the upcoming 5/10 sailing on the Carnival Magic (cabin 1211), and # 40 is the 11/28 Panama Canal transit on the Carnival Paradise (cabin U17). I have 2 questions: First, is there any way to get Carnival to credit me with the proper number of cruises? Carnival doesn’t seem to count anything before 1990. My first cruise was a western Caribbean cruise on the Holiday in mid-Jan 1987. Second, is there any special ceremony when we sail across the International Date Line on the transpacific sailing – like the special ceremony when sailing across the equator? Looking forward to seeing you soon on the Carnival Magic.

Karen L

John says:
Hello Karen L,

The first thing I have to say is a huge thank you for your obvious loyalty to Carnival and many congratulations on booking your cruise number 39 here on your Carnival Magic and number 40 on the Carnival Paradise and of course 41, the magnificent sailing on the Carnival Spirit to Australia. Now there will be a ceremony for the crossing of the IDL as this is very much a sea going tradition and as we get closer to the time I will let you know what has been planned. With regard to your pre-1990 cruises, do you have any photos, tickets or any mementos that show you were onboard. If you do please let me know or you can contact your travel agent or PVP and this will allow them to change your status. Please let me know if I can help with this.

Best wishes and once again many, many congratulations.

John


GATOR L.P.H. asked:

John,

It’s always interesting reading this blog and how you always blow your own trumpet. Today you wrote that you have 12,000 friends on your Facebook as if that’s something special. Considering you have 3,000 pax every week then 12,000 is nothing is it. This blog is controlled by Carnival, that much is obvious and as a Carnival Platinum Member I think you are a bad representation for Carnival Cruise Lines. Read this and amongst the sad people you have brainwashed there are some true comments about how people feel.

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

Hang up the microphone John and let a younger more professional person in. Yes, I have cruised with you and no I have done and never will ask you for anything.

John says:
Hello L.P.H.,

As there was nothing on TV and against my better judgment I read the link here and I have mixed emotions from doing so. First of all my thanks to everyone for writing kind words and to those who expressed they didn’t like my style of writing I sincerely apologise. I am what I am and there is bugger all I can do about it. Many wrote nice things and some suggested I was “looking for sympathy” which I can absolutely see why they said that because it could have appeared that way. I want to assure you it was not my intention. I was angry and rightly or wrongly that anger manifested itself in my writing. I hope we do cruise together again and we get a chance to sit and discuss your opinions and hopefully leave that discussion as friends.

Best wishes,

John

Yvonne Fletcher asked:
Hi John,

I have sailed with carnival once before on the Elation and had such a wonderful time. That was with my husband of 48 years but he passed away last year and this will be my first vacation without him. I am traveling this time with my fried Grace who also lost her husband on the Miracle ship and we have the early sitting dinner. Please can you ask for us to be seated together at a table for 2 people? You see while I know we will have a good time Grace is much stronger than me but I still get very emotional when I see couples together. Robert was my everything.

Thank you for anything you can do.

Yvonne Fletcher

John says:
Hello Yvonne Fletcher,

I am sure I speak for everyone here when I say how sorry I am for your loss. I know there will be difficult times during your cruise when you remember the fun and laughter you shared with Robert. But I also know that there will be fun times as well as the staff and crew serve and entertain you. I have asked the maitre d to help you with your table request and I will send you a little something as well. Have a great cruise as I am sure that is exactly what Robert would have wanted. Thinking of you and your friend Grace.

Best wishes,

John

Leonard Cascorino asked:
John,

I did The Chefs Table on the dream. The food was good but it was ruined by the people at the table who were both common and drank too much wine and became obnoxious. I suggest that if Carnival is going to sell this upscale event then it should be sold to people who will appreciate the food and the culinary arts and not use it for an excuse to talk loudly, drink to excess and had some decorum and table manners. My request for a 50% refund has not been replied to hence my message to you and trust you will do the needful.

John says:
Hello Leonard Cascorino,

This is a very unusual comment and not one I have ever heard of before. Not sure what you mean by “common” people but I realise that sitting and eating with people you have never met before can be an interesting experience and it is not always going to end in a hug and an everlasting friendship. However, it seems in this case it was the other extreme. I am very sorry that your meal was spoiled by behaviour that you found inappropriate but having asked our guest services department in Miami I can confirm that we cannot offer any compensation. I do hope that your memories of the excellent food and service will allow you to try The Chefs Table again one day and thanks so much for taking the time to write.

Best wishes,

John

Barbara asked:

I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW, AND MAYBE I AM WRONG. WHY DO THEY ALWAYS HAVE ITALIAN CAPTAINS?

John says:
Hello Barbara,

Yes, you are indeed correct. Carnival has a rich Italian heritage with many of our ships having been built in Italy. We have always had Italian captains as well and as we promote through the ranks that heritage will continue. Carnival believes that Italians are among the best navigators and sailors in the world which is why all our ship’s masters are indeed captains.

Best wishes,

John


Alice Linton asked:

John,

My husband retires from 37 years in the USAF in July and we are celebrating by taking the whole family (18) on a cruise on the Splendor. Is there anything you can do to recognise a man that served his country with honor? His name is Lieutenant Colonel Mark Linton and we will be in cabin #7312 on the cruise July 24th. Thank you John for being such a special person. I wish you were going to be our director

John says:
Hello Alice Linton,

Absolutely. It will be my honour (spelt correctly) to ask my colleague Felipe to make sure that your husband is recognised and that I send him something on behalf of all of the blog readers who appreciate the extraordinary service he has given. I wish him a long and happy retirement and I wish you all a most wonderful cruise.

Best wishes,

John


Brad Weston asked:

I am a single 38 year-old and for Christmas last year, I was blessed to be able to gift a cruise for my entire family of 16 ranging in age from 30 weeks to 69. I have cruised 10 times on RCCL or Celebrity, but when planning this special family vacation, I considered Carnival, but was unsure whether it would be able to meet the standards I have come to expect in a cruise line. Then the Splendor fire happened and I read the accounts on your blog. I cannot express to you enough how much I enjoyed reading your posts and how much it, the actions of Carnival towards the passengers, and the subsequent posts of the passengers have elevated the Carnival brand in my head. We sail out on the Legend on June 19th! If I may ask for one request… We took a family cruise 10 years ago and it was made most memorable by a spectacular ocean view for dinner. I’d love the same for the 16 of us on the Legend. Regardless… God Bless you John, and thank you for your frequent entertaining posts!

John says:
Hello Brad Weston,

Thanks so much for the kind words and I am very glad to know that you decided to be so generous and bring your family to sail with us on the Carnival Legend. I will ask the maitre d to grant you your table request and I know you will absolutely love the ship and the Carnival fun experience. I wish you all a brilliant time.

Best wishes,

John

Brad Getz asked:
John,

Will Carnival ever consider leaving Galveston and using the port in Houston? I am from there and we have far better facilities than the old port at Galveston. Have you or anyone at carnival seen what we can offer?

Thanks

John says:
Hello Brad Getz,

I have never seen the facilities at Houston but I know my colleagues the beards have and that they were very impressed but there are no plans to leave Galveston or to use Houston as a home port. Galveston remains a very popular and successful embarkation port for “Fun Ship” crusing as indicated by our decision to place your Carnival Magic there this November.

Best wishes,

John

Dana T asked:
Hiya!

I could probably try to call a PVP, if I had one, but I usually book for myself online, so I don’t have one! But I love hearing from you anyway, so what the heck you get my question! Do you know when we might be seeing Europe itineraries for 2012? I’m interested in August or September 2012 in particular, and am REALLY hoping there will be the same 12-night itinerary out of Barcelona with stops in France and Croatia that’s being offered this year. My sister & I had plans to go on the Magic in August 2011, but she’s had some rough times, so those plans fell through, and I REALLY (REALLY!!!) want to go on that itinerary when she’s up to it again. Right now, the Carnival site is only showing Europe through 2011. What can you tell me about when the 2012 cruises will be posted? Thanks in advance–From one of your loyal cheer leaders that loves, loves, loves your blog and anything you want to blog about!

John says:
Hello Dana T,

Thanks for those kind words and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog. Well by now hopefully you will have seen that the Carnival Breeze will offer a season in Europe in 2012 calling at ports in Spain, Italy, France, Croatia, Turkey and Greece. I was sorry to read that you were unable to join us here on your Carnival Magic but hopefully next year you will get to see the wonders of Europe on the Carnival Breeze. I certainly hope to see you there. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes,

John

John R asked:

I know you do table reservations but I have a different request. Stop doing them. I was on the Pride last week and did it the proper way and on embark day and told the maitre d’ that I wanted a table for 2 but they could not accommodate me. I suspect that this is because you had given them all to the people who had wooed you with kind words before asking for something. It is a very unfair practice

John says:
Hello John R,

I am so sorry you did not get the table change you asked for and I know our maitre ds do all they can to accommodate everyone which is though not always possible. I promise you that it wasn’t because of this blog. I maybe have a dozen or less requests a week for the entire fleet and that is certainly not affecting the inventory on the ships. It is also important to know that I never promise that I can do this and always mention that I will “ask the maitre d” to do his best to help. But it’s never a guarantee. I do hope you had a great cruise though and if there is ever anything I can do for you please let me know.

Best wishes,

John

And that’s all for today. Thank you all for the great comments, reviews and questions.

So finally a day at sea. This is a massively port intensive cruise with 8 days in port and this, our one and only sea day. It’s 7:45am and I just got back from the Coffee Shop and counted just 11 guests between my cabin and there and everyone else is sleeping in I guess after long days exploring Monaco, Livorno, Rome, Naples and Messina.

Later today though the Lido deck will be full of people resting, dancing to Blood Power our terrific band and enjoy pool games and one too many cocktails. Fun and sun……that’s what we are all about. The Russians will be out in force and I have to say that the Russian men love the pool. Now, what they like to do, and you’ve got to remember they’re all big lads, most look like ex-Spetnaz soldiers and what they do is dive off the side of the pool onto your head. And as you helplessly flop about with a broken spine, he orders another bottle of vodka.

Yesterday afternoon, I walked across Lido and was greeted by a Russian lady who had a chest that put the entire starboard side of the ship in the shade. I wanted to stay a while and chat to her but she was lying next to a man who had a body shaped like a door wedge and his look told me that he was ex-KGB and I should buggerov as quickly as possible. So I did. But as I walked away I took a last fleeting glance at one of the biggest chests I had ever seen and as I did so I embarrassingly tripped over something and fell on my arse. I looked to see what I had tripped over ……..bugger……it was my tongue I haven’t seen one of the Russian beauties at the Mongolian Wok in stockings and suspenders but it’s only a matter of time.

One thing about the Russians though is that they are late risers and it seems that despite their devil may care attitude the one thing that has yet to invade their culture is seat saving or chair hogging as people on my FB page seem to call it. I know this is a well discussed subject but I need to drag it out of the cupboard kicking and screaming once again as obviously it continues to be vigorously debated. So let’s recap what we are doing at the moment.

We have a no seat saving policy and the cruise directors are supposed announce these measures both in the Capers and the …BUGGER! ……..Fun Times and over the PA system. The cruise directors will stress that if a chair has a shoe, a towel, a book or a chicken on it and it is not occupied after a 30 minute period these items will be removed by ship staff and in the case of the chicken taken to the galley and turned into a delicious curry. That’s what is supposed to happen.

Yes the CDs, myself included make these announcements and yes it is printed in the Fun Times but there are challenges with regard to this policy. Take the Carnival Magic from where I write to you now. We have 1500 sun beds and 7 pool and deck supervisors working. How the heck can these guys monitor 1,500 beds and know who has had a towel on the bed for a few minutes while they poop over to get a burrito or who has had it on the lounger since 4 am? The answer is …… they can’t and to pretend otherwise is pointless. So along with announcements and printed requests we are for the most part relying on the good manners of our guests. Most listen but some definitely do no not.

Is it really a problem though? Have you personally had a situation where you could not find a place to lay in the sun because the chairs were saved? If so, please let me know and let me know what ship it was. Look, we like to think we do things right all the time and that we do things better than other cruise lines but occasionally, that’s not the case. Now I perceive this to be an industry wide problem but, if you have cruised on a mega liner that did not have this problem, please let me know what they did to stop it so we can steal it from under their noses.

My suspicion is though…….we are all in the same boat…….pardon the pun. This is of course not just a shipboard problem. There has been an ongoing battle here in Europe at the hotels. So is this really such a big problem? Is it one you have encountered? And if the answers to those questions are both yes………..then do you have any suggestions on what we should do next?

You know the average age of the dancers and entertainment staff here is 24, yep 24. There are also 2 dancers who were born in 1990, the year I was promoted to CD and the year a girl finally forced herself not to vomit and said yes to my offer of rumpy pumpy. 1990……..oh FFS!

Yep, I feel old and I have noticed more and more that I have no understanding of their world… Why, for example, must the dancers strut around with the words like “Love Pink” on their designer track jogging bottoms? Since when was it OK to advertise things on your arse anyway? And this “Love Pink ” they are all wearing…….I don’t get it……none of it is on anything pink …… it’s on black or white clothes or any colour in the world…….but not on bloody pink. Isn’t that like having “I Heart Cows” written on your McDonald’s wrapper? But there’s another thing that I just don’t get with the younger generation……tattoos.

For those who were with me this week here on the Carnival Magic you will remember a certain guest in the Welcome Aboard Show who was covered in tattoos. He was indeed a blaze of colour and explained a couple to us and that he had gotten them during his 18 years in the United States Army including 2 tours of Vietnam. We all understood why he had gotten them. Today though things are different. There is a young lady who works with us here on the Carnival Magic. I won’t say who obviously but clothed she looks a normal twenty something. Then the other day I saw her in shorts and a sleeveless tank toppy thingy and there were tattoos peeking out from under her shirt. I asked her about them and she pointed to one that was a dedication to her grandparents. On one level this desire to remember a family member is rather sweet and touching. But bloody hell……… why not write a poem, frame a photo, place flowers on a grave? Why inscribe your body so permanently, so painfully? Like in many other work environments these days, it is not uncommon to see a Carnival dancer or female entertainment staff member who lacks a butterfly on her shoulder blades, or some Chinese squiggle peeping over her jeans.

So there are two extremes. I had the proud soldier on stage this week with memories of conflicts and fallen comrades forever remembered on his body. And then I have a 21 year old dancer with a Chinese symbol on her back. I think we can agree that tattoos have officially lost their “underground” status. It is like finding out that the Navy Seal who shot Osama Bin Laden’s code name was Tinkerbell. Do you think it would be wrong of me to go up to a girl and say “nice tats?”

I have never seen the point of tattoos. The nearest I came was when my mate Alan and I talked the talk and went into a tattoo parlor. I didn’t get the tattoo for two reasons. First, the law states that you can’t get a tattoo unless you are drunk and we were both sober. Second, the tattoo artist once ran his needle over my forearm to show me just what a painless experience it was. He was lying. It felt like I was being stabbed in slow motion. Maybe it was also the fact that the tattoo artists were a 300 pound Hell’s Angel with most of Office Depot’s stockroom stuck through his nose.

So we have tattoos, the love of pink and designer labels on arses and 46-year-old cruise director who Gator L.P.H in today’s Q and A suggested should “Hang up the microphone and let a younger more professional person in.” Well, it was his or her comment that got me thinking about feeling old but honestly, it’s not his or her comment that has me thinking my time as a CD is up….nor is the tattoos and pink bottoms…..nope it’s because yesterday a 21 year old dancer called me……… “Big Daddy.”

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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