Summertime

June 21, 2011 -

John Heald

There is a barbecue on the starboard side of the Dream class ships. It’s held on sea days and along with the new brilliant dining room lunch menu, it helps us manage the traffic on Lido deck. To be honest I haven’t really paid it much attention but I did today as Heidi, being Dutch, loves to eat outside. I have never understood the European fascination with eating al fresco. Flies can be a problem and you can’t see the TV. But as she is the boss my precious one-hour lunch break from shows and writing to you was spent taking photos with guests and eating barbecue food. We do a really nice job with the Lanai bbq I have to say. There are burgers and sliders (although to me they are the just different sizes of the same thing) and hot dogs and guacamole and salsa and Quincinearas and other Mexican food items all cooked on a barbecue by the chefs.

I think my hatred of eating outside is matched by my hatred of barbecues which Heidi again, being European, absolutely loves. And it is while I was munching on my slider that she told me that when I come home for my week off in July we would be hosting a summer barbecue at our house for our friends. Oh joy.

I would rather write a blog telling you all smoking is only allowed on top of the smoke stack and that New York will get a Carnival ship all year round but it will only be three- and four-hour cruises to New Jersey than host a sodding barbecue. Let me say this. While it’s OK to except invitations to other people’s barbecues never, ever host one yourself. Throwing barbecues is for fools and guaranteed by the time it’s over to make you hate your friends forever.

It never looks like it does on TV where the host smiles warmly from behind his barbecue as friends and family lie back drinking and laughing in his garden. This is bollocks! You become hot, stressed and you begin to despise those having fun around you in your garden eating your food, drinking your booze all while you slave over a barbecue so hot that your face morphs into a melted latex glove. The only time people come near the BBQ host is with fake offers of help which, of course you must politely refuse. Then your now ex-friends will make patronising remarks such as “You’re doing a great job, chef!” This is the point where you have to restrain yourself from shoving a chicken leg up their arse and stabbing them in the eye with that big barbecue fork thingy. Yes, I hate barbecues, especially when I’m doing all the work.

But the one here on your Carnival Magic seemed very popular and as I sat with Heidi and Kye I watched the people happily eating and enjoying the perfect weather. But of course my social life and my working life is one in the same and once I step out of my cabin I am at work. And while it would be therapeutic when a guest says “I don’t mean to bother you” before ….well …….. bothering me…..to tell them to bugger off and leave me alone, I can’t. Such was the case this lunchtime. After speaking with a nice lady, I had to politely ask her not to kiss Kye on the head. How a stranger can do that to someone else’s child they have never met before I don’t know but Kye didn’t like it and neither did Heidi or I.

Anyway, I met one family who were at the table next to us and I of course had to say hello and asked them if they were having a great cruise. Now this is a question that can go either two ways. Yes or no we hate it, we hate you and we love Richard Spacy on RCI. He’s funnier and better looking. Both of which are true of course. Most of the time it’s the former thank goodness. And indeed, when I asked this family of Mum and Dad and 2 young teens from Atlanta, they said yes, they were having a great time……. and then came that word that every CD dreads…….. and it’s the word ” but.” Now I like a good butt, especially Megan’s, however drop one “t” and the hairs on my butt stand on end. This “but” was different though and it was another example that for whatever reason people like to tell me things that are absolutely none of my business. Such was the case here. You see this family had come on vacation with another family. The two husbands worked together and the kids were the same age. And while they enjoyed their company for a few hours at home coming on vacation with them had been and I quote “a big mistake, John.”

He began to tell me that their friend’s kids had begun to get on their nerves, that the wife was a borderline hypochondriac and ate with her mouth open and that his work colleague was rude to the waiter in the dining room. What was funny was he said the last bit in a whisper in case his friend might be hiding under the table. And all the time I just kept thinking “Why, why are you telling me this?” Did he expect me to talk to them, to disembark them, to have them whacked? So that was my lunch. I ate half a cold slider, listened to a how one family was vacationing with the Munsters and to top it all off was told I would be spending one of my seven days off, standing over a barbecue cooking for our friends, most of which are Heidi’s friends and many of which are vegetablists which means barbecuing a lump of tofu. And to top it all off I had been looking forward all morning during my live TV show and paperwork to spending lunch with Kye ……… fell asleep in her stroller 5 minutes before I got there. Barbecue my arse.

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

Anne Roper asked:

As a Milestone cruiser I should not have to attend the same party as those beneath me with gold and platinum cards. There should be a different party and different gifts and amenities for people like me. I have now done 25 cruises and was so angry to discover that apart from a discount on the cruise everything else is the same. Why do you not seat Milestone guests together at dinner because I was on the Elation and was seated with first time cruisers which was so embarrassing for me! Milestone guests are not treated any better than Platinum and that makes me think you do not appreciate us.

John says:
Hello Anne Roper,

Well please allow me to start by addressing your final point and that is that absolutely we do appreciate the loyalty of our past guests and most definitely we acknowledge those who have cruised with us 25 time or more and are therefore holders of the Milestone card. People here are bored with me saying this and somewhat frustrated as well but there will be a new loyalty program introduced early next year and there will be changes that I know everyone will appreciate, especially those like yourself whose loyalty has been outstanding.

So please allow me to say thank you once again and may I also say that while we don’t seat guests at dinner based on how many cruises they have done, I think it safe to say that the people you sat with who were on their first cruise were fascinated by how many you had been on and I am sure they enjoyed listening to your advice and suggestions. Thanks once again and hope to see you soon on cruise number 26.

Best wishes,

John

Phil James asked:
Hi John,

My better half & I are travelling on Splendor to on 27 Nov ’11 & we’re both soooooo excited & can’t wait. 198 days to go but who’s counting? I can’t believe the criticisms some travelers make – there’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism, but the whining that goes on with some bloggers! What sort of holiday do these people have? Nothing is perfect in this world, but in an environment where you don’t have to cook, clean up, make the bed, put out the garbage, survive traffic hassles getting to & from work, why do they complain so much? John, we’re going to have a funtastic time, no matter what the food’s like (but food’s always perfect to me when someone else is cooking!), regardless of the quality of the entertainment & so what if the captain has to bypass a port? We’ll just relax & enjoy being pampered by the hardworking staff & crew.

Best wishes John from Sydney, Australia.

Phil & Margaret James

John says:
Hello Phil & Margaret James,

I wanted to say thanks for those kind words and how excited you are about your Carnival Splendor cruise which is just around the corner. We do our best to provide exactly what we advertise, fun and great service all served up at an affordable price. However there are one or two who will……well, you said it perfectly really. We are very excited to be sending the Carnival Spirit to Australia and I can only imagine the atmosphere with 2,000 Aussies onboard. Have a safe flight over and if there is anything I can do for you please do let me know.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Barry Hicks asked:
John,

Have to tell you I was not impressed with being woken up by you at 11:45pm during our Magic cruise. I know there was a medical situation which you explained but why did you need to wake up the entire ship. We were exhausted from a day in Rome and had to get up at 7 am for Naples. Why can’t you phone or use a beeper system to get the people where they need to be like Royal Caribbean does?

John says:
Hello Barry Hicks,

I remember this situation well. It was indeed quite dire and the quickest way for me to get the emergency response team to the guest’s cabin was to page them on the PA system. This is a big ship and we need doctors and nurses and the stretcher team and others to respond as quickly as possible. Relying on beepers and phones is not the quickest way and sometimes as I am sure you will understand electronic devices are not always reliable. And so the Carnival policy when paging “Brightstar” which is our medical emergency code is to do it over the emergency system so regardless of where on the ship the response team are, they will hear it. And while I hope you had a great cruise and while I it for waking you I cannot apologise for the page that ultimately saved a 43 year old man’s life……..which they did.

Best wishes,

John.

V. Bancroft asked:

After reading the blog today I see you will be leaving the Magic before the TA cruise. I am so angry to read this as we plan this cruise because you were the CD. You and Carnival are very selfish to do this and letting 3000 people down like this is not good business practice and if my insurance covered it I would cancel. What will you do to make up for this? Can we expect Carnival to do the right thing and give us something? I can see from the comments today on the blog that many expect something special for this.

John says:
Hello V.Bancroft,

I always feel so guilty when I read comments like this because I never want to let anyone down but in this case I am afraid that’s exactly what I am doing. I will be leaving before the Trans Atlantic as I have been told to do by the beards who I report to. This was not what I expected and so I realise that there are some who did confirm the cruise with one of the reasons being I would be the CD. But respectfully it’s not 3,000 people and hopefully those I have let down will forgive me. While Carnival won’t be doing anything specific for the guests who were looking forward to having me as cruise director, I will, nearer the time, take a roll call of who is on the TA and is a regular reader of the blog so I can see what I can do for them and you. James Charlton will be the CD and he and the team are already working on a plan to make this the best TA cruise ever. My apologies once again for the disappointment and I hope you are now looking forward to 16 brilliant days.

Best wishes,

John

Kathy asked:
Hi John,

Really love reading your blog and have noticed that I learn a lot more from reading it than I do with CC. I was wondering if you could tell me if all rooms on the dream have refrigerators or if it’s just certain ones. Our cabin is 7331 inside cabin. I have seen mixed answers on cc but knew I could find the right one with you.

Thanks in advance.

John says:
Hello Kathy,

Cruise Critic does give so much valuable information and I am always available to help you if need be. All the staterooms on your Carnival Dream have mini-bar refrigerators and as your cruise gets closer and if you have any other questions I am here to help.

Best wishes

John

Sandra Kerr asked:
John,

Can you tell me what is happening with 2012 dates in Charleston. I really want to book my summer vacation on the Fantasy or hopefully a newer ship from my home town but there is nothing listed. What’s happening?

John says:
Hello Sandra Kerr,

Well as you may have read there has been some local noise about us being there which I can’t comment on. But I will repeat what I said on my Facebook page yesterday and that is simply this “The week of June 27 there will be news on Charleston and for those who are worried that we might be leaving I can tell you that you will not need a box of tissues.” For now that’s all I can say and have probably said too much. On a personal note I can tell you that this fat English bloke loves Charleston and I truly enjoyed my time as CD on the Carnival Fantasy cruising from there. Sorry for the delay but please do check the blog and carnival.com next week won’t you.

Best wishes,

John

Wilfred H asked:

My partner and I sail with you on August 14th Med cruise cabin ______ .I need you to obtain a table for two for us on our confirmed 6PM dining as we celebrate 25 years as man and husband. By the window would be nice and with a server that will not be embarrassed by two men in love. Cruised with you on the Splendor in the Baltic as well.

John says:
Hello Wilfred H,

It will be great to say welcome back and I have asked the maitre d’s here to do their best to get you a table for 2 although none of them are by the window I am sure they will find you a nice spot to help celebrate your 25 years together for which I send you warmest congratulations.

Best wishes,

John

Cheryl asked:

So I’m seeing lots of messages that the dress code is very relaxed on the Magic. Men don’t even need a suit? Really, if that’s true let me know so I can pack lighter. I’d rather leave the fussy things home if no one’s’ wearing them anyway.

John says:
Hello Cheryl,

Well I am not sure what cruise you are on Cheryl but if it’s the 9 or the 7 day cruise then there is only one elegant night. I would say that 70% of the ship dresses up and the rest does not. However, those that do dress up all look wonderful and men certainly do wear suits and some tuxedos. So the option is yours and I know some guests who I have spoken to have based whether they or don’t dress elegantly based upon their luggage allowance when flying Trans Atlantic. I hope this helps.

Best wishes

John

Mary Van Nurden asked:
John,

I became a reader of your blog just today because of a comment on Cruise Critic, and I must say I am very, very impressed with your wit. I would love a chance for my husband and I to meet you, and wondered if you will be our CD when we sail on the Magic 1/15/2012. We were going to do the Splendor 11/13/2011 but have hooked up with friends from our 2008 Spirit cruise so we changed our plans. I really hope you are OURS in January! I almost cried when I read your blog about your beautiful daughter missing you. It takes a real man to admit that he misses his family enough to want to give up his “other” love for them. You should stand tall.

John says:
Hello Mary Van Nurden,

And now after reading that beautiful and so very kind post I see that we will miss each other by 2 weeks as I return to your Carnival Magic on January 29, 2012. I am so sorry I won’t get to meet you and your husband but I do know you will love this ship and her crew. Thanks so much for the kind words for my family. Leaving them is never easy. So thanks again and my thanks also to Cruise Critic for telling you about this blog to which I send you a warm welcome.

Best wishes to you both.

John


Cathy Paquette asked:

Hello!

I have been on 5 cruises with Carnival and love it! I have introduced each one of my children to it one at a time and they are hooked. Now I am introducing my boyfriend to Carnival and cruising. We are taking the Carnival Freedom next January to Cozumel, Costa Rica and Panama. I know that Cozumel is a terrific place for shopping but it is the first stop. Could you tell me what the shopping is like at the other two stops? I am booking excursions for all 3 but want to make sure that he goes home with lots of wonderful souvenirs.

Thank you.

Cathy

John says:
Hello Cathy Pacquette,

That is great news and I am very happy to read that you and the family enjoy the Carnival experience so much. There are what are known as duty-free centers in both Colon and Panama and both have local arts and crafts etc and the usual bargain T-shirt shops etc. However, Cozumel is the best of the three ports for shopping if jewelry and watches are what you are looking for. May I suggest the canopy tour in Costa Rica. The jungle experience is one the family will always remember. Please let me know if you have any other questions and have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes to all

John

That’s your lot for today and thanks so much for all the great comments and questions. However, I do want to reply to this one from yesterday’s blog. Here it is:

Eileen asked:

I think that you are wrong to state that you were put in the firing line last week over the smoking restrictions. As with anything and anyone….…there are always a few idiots who respond in the manner in which the man took it personally and that it was your decision and he verbally attacked you. If you read through the posts on this blog and those on your FB page (as I have) the most bashing comments were those of the anti-smokers against the smokers (and non-smokers who travel with smokers) trying to get answers to questions so they could make a decision to cruise or not to cruise Carnival. What’s so wrong about that?

If you are taking it personally that people are upset with the new restrictions that affect the quality of their vacation, then you, my friend, are in the wrong position as Senior CD. This is a position that Carnival has elected to have relay such information. I have worked in Customer Service for both a Theme Park and Home Builders. I also own my own Restaurant and one thing that is Customer Service, 101, is you can’t take it personally (even with the idiot who threatened you). He was venting at Carnival and you, John, are Carnival!

Yes, FB is a problem in today’s world. It breaks up relationships, further incites people such as the smoking issue, the colicky child issue, overweight people, etc. Maybe that is something Carnival should recognize and definitely not base their decisions on the minority that post on your Blogs and take it for what it’s worth. You are right…the Internet is hostile. People hide behind their keyboards and this is especially the case with Cruise Critic.

I think you have made some statements in your recent postings and even today’s blog trying to incite further the bashing of smokers. You should be remaining impartial and not putting out a “poor John, what I have to endure, etc.” kind of feel to readers.

I smoke and cancelled a cruise today because of the new policies. Do I hate you? Absolutely not! Never wrote that I did and neither has many other smokers. Do we hate the new policy and think it is unfair especially on the Fantasy Class ships where there isn’t a venue that offers music, a place to get a drink and smoke a cigarette or cigar…absolutely! Hate you? Absolutely not!

I am sorry that you have taken a biased stand on this. I say this because of some of your postings and your insensitive comment to my Daughter. She is a person who works 12 – 14 hours a day and always has been a supporter of yours and Carnival’s. Cancelling a cruise that one is not only looking forward to but “needs” is not an easy decision. Your flippant “we’ll miss ya” (in other words don’t let the door hit you in the behind on the way out) remark was rude and uncalled for and, yes, insensitive! I read so many times how you give into so many whiners who just want a freebie and, yet, you thought nothing of being rude and flippant to a loyal customer of Carnival.

If you want to take that personal, than you should because you were personal toward her with your insensitive remark! You acted no better than the anti-smokers bashing smokers and you should be above that! So, answering your question that you put out in the blog today….if you didn’t have the blog and the FB page would it have been so hostile? In my opinion, no!

John says:
Hello Eileen,

I read your comment a couple of times to make sure I understood it properly and I would like to say a couple of things in response. First of all I never said “we’ll miss ya” that’s not how I write.

What I did say was “we will miss you” because that’s exactly what I meant. We will miss your daughter and anyone who cancels a Carnival cruise and to think I meant is as “don’t let the door hit you in the behind on the way out” is absolutely ridiculous and you obviously don’t know me very well if you feel that’s what I meant.

I smoke cigars and so once again you are wrong to suggest I was taking sides and if that’s how it came across then again I apologise. The decision to change the smoking laws was not based on just what is written on the blog or on Facebook but by extensive research of our guests and I can assure you it was not one taken lightly.

So let’s start again shall we and please tell your daughter that I will miss her, really we will and I hope that she will consider the fact that on every class of ship there is a place to smoke both indoors and outdoors and that along with the reasons she cruised with us in the first place will allow her some pause for thought. Best wishes to you both and I apologise if you think I meant anything else except exactly what I said………….because we will miss her.

John

I received a phone call this morning from the senior ship’s physician, the incomparable and totally charming Doctor Judith whom is so lovely and such a brilliant Doc I may just show her my hemorrhoids. But that’s a story for another day. The call was about sunburn and how she and the team had seen a few really bad cases these past couple of days and could I help mention that the Mediterranean sunshine is as severe as the Caribbean and that guests should take precautions.

Apparently some of the more severe cases she had seen were on children, one as young as 8 years old. I won’t waffle on about how a parent could not take the right steps and smother the little chap in sun cream because that I think goes without saying. Anyway, I certainly will address this and make mention of it during the cruise. It’s strange that the suntan thingy has changed over time. In the olden days a bronzed body meant that you worked outside and were working class. Meanwhile, the upper class stayed inside and bathed in milk to try and stay as white as possible. When then did someone suddenly think that a sun-bronzed body was what the rich and famous should strive to look like George Hamilton’s love child?

Of course, I may have enjoyed sunbathing in my teenage years but now I hate it. I don’t like people trying to save me by pushing me back into the sea……. and if I do sunbathe I worry constantly that I am going to burn. Why, well personally I don’t believe that a UV-Ray that the sun has spit out and that has traveled through the earth’s atmosphere is going to be put off from burning my body just because I have a bit of Hawaiian coconut oil on me. Usually, I do burn and in the places that I forget to put factor 300 cream on. One year on holiday in Jamaica I forgot to put cream on the tops of my feet and spent the rest of vacation wandering the beach in my shorts and long black socks.

I watch the people on the Carnival Magic, especially the younger ladies who spend the entire cruise on a beach chair roasting like a potato. They come onboard as beautiful young people and leave as leatherback turtles.

So I have been asked by various guests to put Wimbledon on the big screen. Now I have to say that most of the guests who have asked are British and/or European and if we can pick it up on our ship’s satellite the other question is will the rest of the ship of which most are North American find it interesting.

I mean for most people tennis is about as exciting as a lecture on the composition of yak poo and Wimbledon takes it to a whole new level. Hundreds of elderly Brits with their sunburn marks and their emergency wet weather gear sit there eating their cucumber sandwiches and applaud absolutely everything. Double faults from anyone who is taking on their beloved Andy Murray and when the umpire asks someone to turn off their cell phone. Unfortunately, what you have to remember is that Wimbledon attracts enormous television audiences from all over the world. I often wonder what these sophisticated people from abroad are going to think of Britain when they see some hysterical women applauding and cheering because a sodding pigeon has just landed on center court just as one of the Williams sisters was about to serve.

Yep, tennis is boring and I don’t know why any other bugger bothers to turn up. Just give the trophy now to that ridiculously puke-inducing handsome Rafael Nipple or whatever his name is because nobody is going to beat him. I guess the female bloggers and some male ones as well love this Nadal fellow and drool over him every time he walks onto the court.

Let us try to remember the last time that tennis served up such a genuine hunk? My wife loved Goran Ivanisevic and Pat Cash but says tennis has been something of a desert for the female libido these past 20 years. How about Pete Sampras? He would probably would fold his clothes neatly over a chair before commencing the 30-minute window he has scheduled for rumpy pumpy. I often wish that tennis player would lose their tempers more and move into the realms of ice hockey where if they lost a point or the other player hits them in the bollocks with a tennis ball then they have the right to jump over the net and bludgeon the other one with their racket.

Now that would make tennis interesting again and if tennis had been decided on who the hardest, toughest most scariest, ready to beat the crap out of you player was….then nobody….. absolutely nobody would ever have beaten Martina Navratilova.

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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