GOING HOME TOMORROW….BUT FIRST, A BLOG

June 30, 2011 -

John Heald

I have been thinking about luggage a lot these past 24 hours and let me explain why. First of all we had the comment in the blog the other day from a Platinum guest who asked in a very civil and polite way (civil and polite, my arse) about why we don’t take Platinum and Milestone luggage on the ships first and why it isn’t then sent to their cabins first? As I mentioned, we tag the bags by deck and that’s how they are currently brought onto the ships. But despite asking me with all the civility of a pissed off rattlesnake…….she has a point. And it’s a point I have since raised with the beards.

The other reason that I have been thinking about luggage is that we have had the worst cruise this 2011 European season for lost luggage with a total of 38 missing pieces that did not arrive in Barcelona as the guests expected. Since then we have recovered 11 pieces which still leaves 27 somewhere. They could be in Botswana, Birmingham, Baltimore or Bora sodding Bora…..but regardless there are some very unhappy guests here as you will read now.

From: MAGIC GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2011 9:27 AM
To: MAGIC CRUISE DIRECTOR; MAGIC MAITRE D; MAGIC HOTEL DIRECTOR
Cc: MAGIC GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR; MAGIC GUEST SERVICES MANAGER; MAGIC GUEST SERVICES;
Subject: Lost Luggage

Good morning,

Mr ——— and family still have no luggage and are very upset. It was lost by Continental but he is blaming Carnival. He is now asking for John to make an announcement that tonight for elegant dinner he has stated he and his wife will be wearing cabin bathrobes and for John to explain why.

Thank you and best regards,

Guest Services Supervisor | Carnival Magic

Well that’s an interesting one isn’t it? First of all I have to say that to blame Carnival for the airline losing luggage is ridiculous. They did not book their flight with Carnival and we have done everything we can to retrieve it by working with the airline. We have given them amenity packets and T-shirts etc but from what I understand Mr______ has been very vocal and giving the guest services folks a really difficult time.

This, to me, is a another prime example of how the cruise industry has over the years opened these huge barn doors and said “Come on in Mr. and Mrs. Complainer and we will listen and give you free stuff even if what you are complaining about is total bollocks.” I mean, if I was staying at a hotel and the airline lost my luggage, would I be standing at the front desk of the Marriott demanding compensation and clean underpants? No. And if I did they would tell me to bugger off for sure.

Yet saying this I have huge sympathy for this chap and anyone whose luggage gets lost. I know, it’s happened to me three or four times during my travels. And I was really sympathetic when I spoke to the guest along with the guest services manager and I explained that I would not be making announcement that Mr. and Mrs. Samsonite would be wearing their bathrobes. And after 20 minutes of swearing and finger pointing he realised that this was just said out of desperation and out of anger for what had happened. So tonight, they will wear shorts and jeans or T-shirts and I promised them that I would explain that there will be a few dressed like this because they have no luggage. He still blames Carnival and when I asked why it was our fault he really could not give me an answer. Again, it’s just frustration and all of us who travel can totally understand.

Look, most of you hate to fly and you all know how much I enjoy it……..not…. I don’t like the idea that a metal pipe with wings that have been glued to it somehow supposed to get them from A to B. I don’t like the recycled air or the cramped seats or the food or the fake grin of the air crew as they demonstrate how to self inflate the life jacket and “That there is a whistle here is also a light, for attracting sharks,” and “Before using the escape chute, don’t forget to remove high heeled shoes, belts and other sharp objects, like red hot pieces of engine casing, that are embedded in your skull.”

But what I’m also scared of is the baggage reclaim hall. This isn’t because I don’t like crowds or trolleys or being surrounded by people who all smell bad after 12 hours breathing in other people’s farts. No, I’m scared my bag won’t turn up. Okay, so in fear terms it’s hardly up there with being in a Turkish prison or finding out writing on the blog and Facebook about new smoking rules at Carnival…………but it’s scary all the same. I don’t like it because I don’t understand how it works. Think about how you see your suitcase bump past a check in person and then don’t see it again until it is belched out of a conveyor monster at the other end.

Where does it go in between? The system of belts, drives and moving parts backstage at an airport must be more complicated than a sushi restaurant mated with a ski lift. Your bag somehow (usually) gets to the right place despite being dumped where there are thousands of near identical other bags being kicked and thrown onto a thousand near identical planes. I can’t even remember that my cabin key operates the lights here on the Carnival Magic, so thank God I’m not in charge. Really, it’s a wonder that more suitcases don’t go missing and that every time you’re at the airport you don’t pass someone screaming at an American Airlines high-visibility jacket-wearing customer services agent because her bags hasn’t turned up. What I don’t like either is that someone has chosen the place the luggage comes out onto as a carousel? It’s not a carousel, is it? The word carousel suggests something with up and down horses and music, with perhaps Mary Poppins hovering above with her umbrella. The thing at the airport is like the tongue of some great ugly creature that lives below the hall randomly spewing out luggage.

There has to be a better method of collecting luggage. Too many cases and the thing locks up and has to be restarted by a sweaty man. Too few and there is a sea of faces staring forlornly at the pair of escaped underpants going round and round that nobody will ever pick up.

I don’t know about you but every time this hellish machine grinds to a halt I want to vault onto the thing, climb down the hole and see what is going on. I don’t dare, though, for two reasons: a) I’d be taken to airport prison and shot; and b) because I’m scared of what I might find. I imagine I would find the baggage handlers opening random Samsonites and dressing up in bras or opening my suitcase, finding my underpants and calling in the Hazmat team.

The bottom line is that I feel sorry for anyone who has lost luggage. Carnival is responsible for this in the same way that seeing a photo of Judge Judy is responsible for me wanting some rumpy pumpy. Yet, each time it happens we help as best we can and that is something that just doesn’t happen at your local Marriotintercontinentalhyatt.

Time for some Q and A – off we go.

Diane Fairclough asked:
John,

I am cruising with Carnival again on the Fantasy July 2nd… This cruise is special to me because it will only be me and my daughter going… Since it is just she and I going I have been trying to plan things that he will find interesting. One thing that we have always said we would like to do is have a “behind the scenes” tour of the ship. We would like to see the Bridge, the engine room, the fancy electronics, backstage at the shows, that kind of place .Can you give us this on a complimentary basis as my daughter Lucy has just discovered she has been accepted into North Carolina State University on a full scholarship. I have been a single parent for the last 11 years since my husband left us and so if we could do this it would mean a lot. Can you arrange this and make it a special cruise?

John says:
Hello Diane Fairclough,

Thank you for writing and I am glad I saw this before you cruised this Friday. I am sure that you must be very proud of your daughter and what a wonderful way to celebrate. I unfortunately cannot give you the Behind the Fun tour for free. I do realise that as a single parent that money may be tight but this is something I am not in a position to do. I will however send you both something to help celebrate what I hope will be seven days of brilliant mother and daughter time.

Best wishes and my congratulations to your daughter.

John


Yolanda Marty asked:

Hi John,

I would like to meet you to find out why do all of the cruise that are Caribbean, not have Spanish speaking working people. well it’s like this my brother, sisters and I are having my parents 50 anniversary, they want to renew their vows ,but you don’t have anyone that can speak Spanish to renew vows for them .why? First time cruisers that are concern.

John says:
Hello Yolanda Marty,

I think I am right in saying that you wish for the marriage renewal of vows ceremony to be conducted in Spanish which we can definitely do. Many of our captains speak Spanish as the Italian and Spanish languages are very similar. So please allow us to organise this for you and you can do so through www.carnival.com/cms/fun/weddings/weddings.aspx. I am sure we can make it a very special time for this wonderful celebration. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes,

John

Bill Haas asked:
Hello John,

I was just on the May 22 sailing of the Magic and it was great. We have sailed several times with you and you do a great job. I heard that the Spirit was going to be sailing Australia do you have any information as of yet. Also is there any way I can combine my sailings with Carnival and Princess as I have sailed 13 times with Carnival and 1 time with Princess and I would love to be able to get the perks with Princess if I have to sail with them we both are hooked on Carnival

John says:
Hello Bill Hass,

I am so glad you had fun here with us and thanks so much for those kind words. Unfortunately there is no linked loyalty program between the cruise lines within the Carnival Corporation & plc family. We looked at doing this but as each program was so different we decided it would not be possible. I love Princess and their product and I hope that we will see you again though Bill on one of our Carnival ships. Hope to see you again soon.

Best wishes,

John

Carolyn Reddin asked:
John,

I will be on the Magic on Jan.1, 2012 and I was wondering if you will still be on it then. If so I would love to meet you.

John says:
Hello Carolyn Reddin,

Unfortunately I will not be there. The CD will be James Charlton who along with the rest of the crew will make sure you have a brilliant time. I promise you will truly love this great ship and hopefully we will get to sail together one day soon.

Best wishes,

John

Adam Bostock asked:
John,

You may remember me. I cruised on the May 10 Magic cruise. I came into one of your shows with a plate of pizza as I was hungry and sat with my mother on the front row. You made fun of me and gave a piece of my pizza to a child in the row behind and you called me Mr Domino. Everyone laughed and I felt embarrassed for the rest of the cruise. I should be able to eat pizza at the show without you making fun of me. I didn’t come back to the shows in case someone called Mr. Domino. I am very angry at you and told all the people I work with that they should not cruise with John Heald as he will make fun of you.

John says:
Hello Adam Bostock,

I was so upset when I read this comment. I do remember you coming into the Marriage Show at 2:30 pm with a whole pizza on a tray and I do remember giving a slice to a small boy. I am so sorry if this embarrassed you and I hope this very public apology will show you how sincere I am about that. Once again, my apologies.

Best wishes.

John

Kezia and Rob asked:
Hi John,

I am cruising with my husband and both of us weigh over 350 pounds. So we have some concerns.

1 — We have problems climbing stairs and have booked a cabin 1060 at the front end so all we have to do is to come down one deck to the pool area. On NCL they reserved a pool chairs for us as we have mobility problems and I would need Carnival to do the same. Obesity is recognized as a handicap and I trust Carnival will do the needful.

2 — We obviously cannot fit into the booths and have read that the Liberty has booths in the dining room so we will need to not be put there and put on a table instead. As we are big people a private table for 2 is what I suggest you give us.

We cruise on July 17. Booking # _____. Cabin 1060

John says:
Hello Kezia and Rob,

We are looking forward to welcoming you on board the Carnival Liberty for your first ever Carnival cruise. While I am very sorry that we can’t reserve you or anyone deck chairs I have spoken to the maitre d and he has assured me that you will not be in a booth and that he will do his best to provide you with a table for two. I am sure that you will have a brilliant time and enjoy the service, fun, food and the entertainment.

Best wishes to you both

John

Ramani Costa asked:
Hi John.

So I’ve been reading your responses regarding the 2012 deployment dates. And am I understanding correctly that Carnival only has one person who can make a schedule? Oh my goodness what if something really serious happens to that person? Why does RCI and others have their complete 2012 schedule out and Carnival doesn’t.

John says:
Hello Ramani Costa,

I see that you posted this question on May 21 and since then hopefully you will have seen that we have posted other dates and itineraries. There are still some to tell you about and as soon as I know you will all know as well. I can’t say why other lines do what they do but I do know that we have an entire itinerary planning department who look at a variety of options and hopefully you will see that when we do release the remaining itineraries that the wait has been worth it. Thanks so much for your patience and understanding.

Best wishes.

John


Jeannette Schiller asked:

Hi John,

Should we be scared? My husband, my son 15 years old and I are going for the first time in a cruise in July 10. We have reviewed the comment of “unlucky” since our stateroom 12037 is the closest one to the WaterWorks. This person states that the balcony will get full of water all the time and the bell and noise will be a nightmare. Do we have a reason to be scared? Your comments are very much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

My Ship: Carnival Magic
# of Guests: 3
Stateroom: 12037

John says:

Hello Jeanette Schiller,

I am so happy you wrote so that I can say that yes, on the first cruise we had the PowerDrencher water bucket bell ringing every 10 minutes telling guests they were about to get soaked. But after a few days we all realised that this was annoying to everyone, especially those on the Serenity adults-only retreat which is right next to it. And so we disconnected the bell and it no longer rings. As for the cabin balcony, well I am afraid this is a bit of an urban legend. I asked the housekeeping manager and he told me that the only time that any balcony has water on it is after the automatic washer passes by. There is no water from the bucket and no excessive water on the balcony. So please don’t worry and I promise you will have a brilliant time on a ship that is getting brilliant reviews. I will see you here in a couple of weeks.

Best wishes to all.

John


Kev Maitland asked:

John,

I did not get a comment card this time but wanted to tell you our cabin steward on our Freedom cruise was the best we have ever had. Her name was Cindy from the Philippines and she was just the nicest most friendliest person. Our kids loved her and so did we. I wanted to ask a question about her assistant Philbert. We gave Cindy an extra tip at the end of the cruise plus what was take on our sail and sign cards but afterwards we wondered if we were supposed to give something to Philbert. Can you tell me how this works? Did we forget to do this?

John says:
Hello Kev Maitland,

Thanks so much for caring about our crew and no, you did everything correctly. The gratuities you leave the stateroom steward go all to him and/or her and then they are responsible for sharing this with their assistant. Thanks so much for thinking of Cindy and Philbert and I will make sure they see your words of praise. I hope you had fun and thanks once again.

Best wishes

John


Lissy asked:

Hi John,

Thank you so much for reading my message…. After booking our cruise on the Magic on 17th July 11, I’ve been reading your blog daily and find it fantastic. It’s actually now turned into my alternative to my alarm snooze button on my mobile phone, instead of pressing snooze, I hit the email button and read away! Wakes me up and gives me a giggle…what better way to start the day! You have so many requests on here so I hope you don’t mind me asking… Whilst we are cruising, is there any chance you could please involve my little boy in something special? Maybe get him up on stage and do something funny to him?? His name is Rhanel and the cruise is a couple of weeks before his 9th birthday… I know your little Kye means the world to you so I hope you understand me wanting to do something special for the one little person who means the world to me…. Thank you once again, and please don’t worry if this isn’t possible… (Our cabins are 7298 and 7302)

John says:
Hello Lissy,

How humbling to know that you read these silly musings first thing in the morning. I hope you continue to enjoy them and I am very much looking forward to seeing you and the family here on your Carnival Magic. Please can you leave me a note at the guest services desk when you board reminding me about Rhanel and I will be happy to have a bit of fun with him and send him something special? Thanks again for the kind words and I will see you all soon.

Best wishes,

John

That’s all for today.

Now at this point I usually say “I will be back with more tomorrow” but on this occasion I won’t be. That’s because I am going to ask for one of those twice yearly favours. I have been going since April 2 and what with the new ship, the blog and Facebook I need a few days downtime. So Carnival has graciously allowed me to have seven days leave. Now usually when I am home on vacation I blog and Facebook but for the next seven days I am not going to. There are two reasons. A) My eyes hurt from being on the computer every day for so many hours and they are demanding a rest. B) Heidi told me I had to otherwise once again something would be entering my chocolate starfish………in this case her shoe.

Seriously, though, I do need a rest and I truly appreciate you allowing me to do this and I will be back rejuvenated on July 10 ready to start again here from your Carnival Magic. Now even though I am not doing Facebook I will say that if there is any breaking news I will post on Facebook but won’t answer the 50-plus questions I do a day, until I return. There will though be a few guest blogs and I will leave those as a surprise. So thanks again for allowing me this break and I wish you all a very happy 4th of July as you celebrate your independence from the Great Britain. Shame really……..if we had won I would have gotten a decent cup of tea.

Now I was going to be leaving on July 2 which is Saturday but I am now leaving on July 1 which is ummmm……..tomorrow. I decided it was better for me to leave from Spain rather than France simply because there is less chance of my bottom coming into contact with a latex glove worn on the wrist of a man called Pierre who bends me over and says “Zo, yu fat Englishman, yu don’t like us French and say we smell bad”…….ha ha ha open up your derriere and say Viva La France.”

So I will leave from Palma de Majorca…….probably for the best, right? A lot of people think I am joking when I say I don’t like the French and they would be ummmm……wrong. While I know there are many lovely French people that don’t smell like Meatloaf’s undercarriage but I have had so many personal experiences in France that I think I have the right to say that it isn’t my favourite place on God’s green earth.

So, I will be flying home tomorrow from Spain leaving the fantastic Mr. James Charlton as cruise director for a week. I know he will do a brilliant job. One man who is very happy I am buggering off is Ketut, my cabin steward, who will have seven wonderful free days of non- smoldering underpants to pick up from my bathroom floor. That now becomes Heidi’s job.
I was thinking about how some five-star plus ships like Seabourn and the Queens Grill guests on Cunard have butlers…….proper butlers, and what a difficult job that must be. But who in their right mind would want to be a butler? What must it be like to be an invisible non-person lurking in the shadows outside Mrs. Snob’s cabin? No disrespect, I am sure there are many fine people who do the job for these cruise lines, but really, what child awakes one day and says: “When I grow up I want to squeeze toothpaste on to a rich man’s toothbrush and be bollocked for serving Mrs. Snob an egg that wasn’t cooked exactly right,” And if it’s hard being a butler to Mrs. Snob on a cruise ship what must it be like to be a butler to the Royal Family? Does the royal version of Ketut have to pick Prince Charles’ underpants off the floor? How boring must it be to spend your working day pushing a chair under his royal bottom or making sure his wife has enough hay.

So, thanks again for all your kind words and thoughts and comments and for your passionate responses. The blog has had 10,700,000 views so far and to every single one of you who has clicked on the blog, even the ones who despise me more than a bleeding hemorrhoid, I say thank you……..and will see you back here on the blog and on Facebook on July 10th.

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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