One of the things I look forward to doing when I am home on vacation is catching up with my best friends Alan and Alison and John and Lucy. But these days that’s sodding impossible. Let me explain why. It’s because like so many parents they spend their evenings and weekends miles from where they live, desperately looking for a pair of balloons tied to a gatepost. This will indicate that they’ve found the right house at which to drop their kids off for a party. Afterwards, they’ll have to drive to the local shopping mall in the vague hope that their 16-year-old son will be there as arranged.

Then, after discovering that he isn’t there, and isn’t answering the Eye Phone you bought him for Christmas and is probably having his nose pierced, it’ll be time to pick up a third child from her sleepover and head back to the party to collect your daughter where you discover all of the kids crying because the children’s entertainer made a balloon animal that looked like a thingy.

Honestly, my friends face a daily round of school trips, social events, dance classes, horse riding lessons, singing lessons, and various sporting fixtures and therefore have absolutely no social life themselves. This will not happen to me as I have plans for Kye because I intend to have used something that I used when I was a kid to get to school, parties and to play football in the park. It’s an ancient contraption…….it’s called a bike! And I don’t want to sound like an old fart, but it was never like this when I was a kid, because back then I didn’t choose friends on the basis that I liked them I chose them on the basis that they lived within cycling distance because I knew my father was never going to spend his after work hours or his weekends ferrying me around.

I had a bicycle at home, which I would ride for fun whenever there was nothing on television, which considering when I was a kid we had three channels……..yep, just three channels was every single day. My bicycle was my passport to adulthood. My bike was freedom. It was called a “chopper” and had three gears and a saddle that was about as comfortable as sitting on a cactus. But as I said, it was my passport to freedom.

These days kids have bikes but are not allowed to use them… A bicycle now is seen as a one-way ticket to the ER. There’s a sense that unless you are dressed up with more body armour than a Navy Seal you will definitely be killed within seconds of climbing on board. This is no fun and this is why kids have Mummy and Daddy to take them everywhere.

This was brought home this morning when I went up to the water park here on the Carnival Magic. You see we have a film crew onboard from the UK and they had asked to interview me from the top of the giant twister slide which provides a great shot of the rest of the ship. As I stood waiting for them to start I watched a group of kids excitedly prepare for their slide experience. But one kid drew my attention. He was about 12 I would say but the difference between him and the others was that his father had accompanied him to the top of the slide. Once there and despite the boys embarrassed shouts of “Oh Dad,” and “I don’t want to” ……his father put knee pads and shoulder pads on him and yep…….one of those hats that kids wear when they ride a bike, you know the ones that look like four bananas tied together. Now as far as I could tell the kid was a normal 12 year old and despite his frustrations and desperate pleas not to, dad made him go down the slide wearing all this safety equipment which he must have brought on the cruise himself. So there he was, standing at the top of the twister slide looking embarrassed beyond belief and looking not like he was about to go down the water slide……but like he was about to go to Afghanistan.

When I was a lad there were no knee pads and thigh pads and helmets…….right, readers? If we fell of our bikes and cut our knees, we would cry, run to Mummy, get her to put a band aid on it and 10 minutes later we were off on our bikes again. Today the world has changed and maybe this dad is just forward thinking. Maybe it won’t be long before all kids who want to play outside wear pads and Kevlar body armour and even Fun Ship Freddy will have to walk the Promenade deck in a high visibility jacket.

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

Michelle Birdwell asked:
Hi John,

I had to share the cutest story with you. To set it up, my husband Jason and I (who celebrated our 17th anniversary this week) are on our 9th Carnival cruise and with you on the Magic and are having a fabulous time with our kids Brooke (6) and Ben (4). They are pretty experienced cruisers themselves and love the ship too! Tonight as we walked back to our cabin from watching the Danish juggling comedian, my son was clearly thinking about something important. In his sweet little 4 year old voice, he very seriously asked me “Mommy, when I go to heaven someday and I get ready to go to sleep, will there be towel animals on my bed?” :)))

John says:
Hello Michelle Birdwell,

What a wonderful story and I am sure the big boss will have taken lessons from Ketut and there will be towel animals and towel angels waiting for us. I hope you all had a wonderful time and thanks for sharing that beautiful story.

My best wishes to you all.

John

Frank M. asked:
John,

My question is about clothing in the gift shops. I am a large man and cannot find shirts my size on board (3X). I know there are business decisions as to what to stock but a couple of larger sized polos or Hawaiian shirts don’t seem like a bad risk because I am not the only large man cruising. Perhaps you can pass this on to the beards before my Dec cruise on the Inspiration.

Thanks.

John says:
Hello Frank M,

And I agree mate, absolutely agree, which is why I have been pushing hard for larger sizes. I just checked here on the Carnival Magic and the largest size we have is indeed XXXL. This is according to Justine our shop manager now standard on every ship and I have to say that it has been a long time coming. So I wish you a wonderful time on the Carnival Inspiration and hope to see a photo of you wearing your brand new XXXL shirt.

Best wishes.

John

Hamilton asked:
Hi John,

I am PLATINUM and have a cruise upcoming on the Carnival Triumph July 23 for my wife and son. I am also paying for my in-laws to come as well as my brother and his wife. In all I am paying for three cabins on deck 6. I called Carnival I was told that my in laws and my brother and wife would not be afforded VIP check in. This is OUTRAGEOUS! As a PLATINUM passenger and having paid a total of $3,500 for my family to sail it should not be in question if they get VIP treatment. I insist this is arranged and our booking numbers are ________ Getting this done will make sure I continue to cruise with Carnival or if I go to your competitors.

John says:
Hello Hamilton,

Please let me start by saying a huge thank you to you for your loyalty to Carnival and for being so wonderful to pay for your family to enjoy some Carnival-style fun which I am sure they are all looking forward to. I am sorry though that we cannot offer VIP privileges to your brother and wife and your in-laws as this is outside of our Platinum rewards policies. I am sure you can understand that if we were to expand this to Platinum guests and everyone they are traveling with that the already busy VIP area would be so busy that the early boarding benefit would be null and void. So please don’t worry. They will board just after you and then you can all meet on Lido, have lunch together and let the fun begin. Have a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Ella K asked:
John,

I took photos of something I never thought I would see – Carnival supporting bull fighting. Yes Mr Herald I have evidence following our cruise on Carnival Magic that Carnival supports this blood sport and I intend to use them to embarrass you as much as possible!

John says:
Hello Ella K,

And it was all going so well. Ella, I have to say that I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. What photos? We don’t promote bull fighting in anyway shape or form. We don’t run excursions or mention it at all anywhere so I have honestly no idea what you are describing so please can you write and tell me as I am utterly confused? I hate bull fighting and could never promote it. Bulls were meant to live in a field having loads of rumpy pumpy with Miss Cow, getting her pregnant thus ensuring there are lots of cows in the world thus insuring I get a Porterhouse whenever I want it. So please let me know will you and I hope meanwhile that you had a great cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Note Thingy: OK, after some investigation I now know what you are referring to. I understand that in Palma de Majorca we have a photographer dressed in a traditional Spanish costume to take photos with guests along with a senjorita in traditional costume as well. Please allow me to apologise for any misunderstanding here as we certainly are not promoting bull fighting just the lavish costume Spain is associated with.

Ian Tomski asked:
John,

I never got a comment card from my fabulous cruise on the Carnival Liberty and I wondered if you could pass on the following to the right people. My room steward Dario was simply amazing and always welcomed us by our names and did so many special things for us. Then there was Philbert and Julia our dining room waiters who in my five cruises were simply the best. Finally there is Gabriela who was the bartender at the martini wine bar and it was her smile and her amazing apple martinis that made her bar our first stop after dinner. It was a great cruise and we will be back for more. Why didn’t we get a card John?

John says:
Hello Ian Tomski,

Thanks so much for those words of praise which I have already sent to those you mentioned and their on board and shore side supervisors. It is always thrilling to hear about those crew that have made a cruise so enjoyable and it sounds like you had four of our very best on Carnival Liberty. We now send selected guests our review cards. I learnt last week that it is 40 percent of those that sail who get one and while I understand why we are doing this online now I don’t think that we are giving everyone who wants a chance to write praise and to write how we can improve, the chance to do so. I will continue to pass this onto the beards. Meanwhile I thank you once again for writing and hope we see you again very soon.

Best wishes,

John

Kevin Morrison Sr. asked:
John,

In the blog today you wrote about one group of passengers (32) all refusing to tip their servers and you ridiculed them for it. I found this to be very unprofessional and I am shocked that your peers allowed you to do so. Tipping is a choice and if this group decided not to tip then that is their right and not for you to judge.

John says:
Hello Kevin Morrison Sr.,

I guess having been in their position as when I worked as a bar waiter and having seen just how hard the dining room staff work each and every day, I understand and sympathise with them when something like this happens. You are correct, tipping is a choice and it is rare indeed to find so many people remove their gratuities not only for the wait staff but their stateroom stewards, as well. I think the reason I mentioned it on the blog was also because I had witnessed firsthand how demanding and quite honestly how extremely rude this group was and yet despite their attitude and obtuse behavior and their excessive demands, the staff always did their jobs to the highest level and did so with continuing smiles. Tipping is a choice Mr. Morrison and maybe you are correct; maybe it is unprofessional for me to mention this. However, this is my blog and that’s a good thing because it gives me the ability to say that this group were total and utter bastards by doing what they did. Carnival agreed by the way because they compensated the crew accordingly.

Best wishes

John

Rick Miles asked:
Hi John,

Just love your blog. It kicks my day off each morning with a smile and the feeling of somehow still being connected to Carnival. My wife and I have just booked our 15th cruise with Carnival on January 25, 2012. It will be our 2nd trip on the Liberty. Last evening I came home and my wife said “I have an idea”, (that always makes me nervous), let’s do a back to back on the Liberty. Being the softy that I am, I agreed. I do have a logistical question for you. Because we could not get the same cabin for both weeks (9290 1st week – 9280 2nd week), wondering what the process is to move from one cabin to the other. I realize that our room steward will of course need to get the other cabin ready before moving, but do not know the timeline. I would assume we would move prior to disembarking and going through Customs. I would also guess that we would be able to stay on the ship until the very end of the disembarkation process. Is it also safe to assume that we will have to go through the check in process again? It is not that bad as we are able to zip through the lines with our VIP passes pretty quickly and wait to re-embark in the comfort of the VIP lounge. Anything you can do help to clarify the process would be greatly appreciated.

We have cruise with you 3 times, Sensation, Glory and Dream, but never had the pleasure of meeting you personally. The 1st time we saw your “bedtime story” on the Sensation, we all but peed our pants. We bought the video and have showed it many times to different friends. All of them left wet spots on the carpet of our play room as well. We hope to cruise with you again one day soon. Perhaps on the Breeze in 2013. You are the best and keep up the great work. You are indeed a great ambassador for Carnival. Please pass on our best wishes to Heidi and Kye.

Thank you!!

Rick and Betty Miles

John says:
Hello Rick Miles,

Many congratulations on booking a back to back cruise on the great Carnival Liberty. So please now allow me to explain how this works. At the end of the first cruise you can sleep in (although there will be some announcements on the PA system) and toward the end of the debarkation process the CD will announce “last and final call.” At that time you will need to go to the lobby where you will be met by a purser who will then……bugger……be met by a guest services associate person who will escort you through Customs and Immigration or CBP as they are now known.

Then, the good news. You do not have to return to the check in system as we will do all of that on board. All you need to do is have your photo taken again at the gangway for your boarding pass (Sail & Sign card) and that’s it…..you are all done. Meanwhile your stateroom steward will take your suitcases to your new room for you. May I suggest that you keep clothing on hangers so that they can just take them and hang them up in your new cabin which will save you having to pack everything. So there you go, pretty simple isn’t it? I apologise if the Bedtime Story has caused your friends to lose control of their bladders and I hope one day we can cruise together again and this time I will provide you with some Depends. Have a great back to back vacation.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Lotti K. asked:
John,

Why have Carnival left Mobile. It’s so unfair especially as you continue to cruise out of the murder capital of America New Orleans. We are all fun loving, God fearing honest people in Alabama and yet Carnival has made it clear we are not appreciated.

John says:
Hello Lotti K,

I can truly understand as to why you are so disappointed about Carnival’s decision to leave Mobile. We all know that the people from Mobile and the state of Alabama are wonderfully fun people and we have enjoyed many happy times sailing out of there. The decision to leave was purely a business one as we were simply not able to fill the ship at the ticket prices we desired. I know you mentioned New Orleans and I know that it now becomes your nearest homeport. I urge you to try for yourself and enjoy a cruise from there. Until then I thank you for taking the time to write and hope we see you onboard one day soon.

Best wishes.

John

Bruce Kirby asked:
John,

I have to tell you that I went to the maitre d table at embarkation and tried to get a table for 2 for my fiancé and I yet we were told there were none available. I am sure this has to do with you awarding them to your desperate group of fans who will blow smoke up your ass and then ask for something. I didn’t get a table for 2 yet and I have been on 3 cruises.

John says:
Hello Bruce Kirby,

I can promise you that the reason you didn’t get a table for two had nothing to do with this blog and the requests I try and help people with. And despite your obtuse comments I will say that when you cruise again please let me know and I will do my best to help you as I do everyone who asks. I hope you had a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes,

John

Elizabeth St asked:
John,

Can you tell me what diabetic medicine you take. I was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and I am really struggling with the meds and the side effects. Sorry to ask about this as I know it’s a personal question but you seem to be such a helpful and kind person. I am on Actos and Metmorphin get headaches and nausea and depression which is really bad at the moment that not evens the thought of my December Valor cruise cheers me up. My non fasting sugar level is 220 down from 240. Do you have any words of wisdom?

Thanks so much John

John says:
Hello Elizabeth St.,

Well first of all let me say that I am always here for you and I know how hard the first few months can be for a diabetic. It is important that right from the start that you promise yourself that you will not let the diabetes control you and that you will control the diabetes. That of course is easier said than done but it will, I promise get easier through time. I take 1000mg of Metformin Glucophage per day and while I am not aware of Actos I can tell you that I remember the side effects of Metformin very well. They were exactly as you mentioned and I promise they will pass. These are not wonder pills; they won’t drop your sugar level in just a few days but after time you will see it fall and that will be the cheer you need.

Yes, you will have days when you feel down when you feel tired and when you have that wave of depression wash over you. This is very normal for diabetics but again it passes and you have to fight on. Most importantly listen to your medical people and tell them how you are feeling, that’s why they are there. I promise there will be more good days than bad and I promise that when you are the Carnival Valor you will have seven wonderful days all in a row. May I also recommend you take a multi vitamin and cinnamon which really does help. Remember that I will be here if you ever need to talk and I wish you continuing health and happiness.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today. So here I am again and with my thanks to all of you for what was a wonderful week with the girls, here is who is sailing with us on this our second seven day cruise.

TOTAL GUEST COUNT: 4,505

INTERNATIONAL GUESTS

RUSSIAN: 171 (OH JOY)
ITALIAN: 55
DUTCH: 131
GERMAN: 97
ISRAEL: 61
BRITISH: 238

So still the Russians keep coming and as I mentioned on Facebook earlier they continue to provide us with some interesting challenges for sure. Now, let’s see where we are going.

Sun, Jul, 10: Barcelona,Welcome Aboard Show, dep @ 5pm
Mon, Jul, 11: Monaco, Destination Unknown/ Jason Byrne/Stephen Thomas/Jerry Goodspeed,9am-8pm
Tue, Jul, 12: Rome, Activities / Deck Party/Stephen Thomas, Jerry Goodspeed, 8am-10pm
Wed, Jul, 13: Livorno, Claire Gobin (Violinist) 7am-6:30pm
Thu, Jul, 14: Naples, Niels Duinker (Juggler),John Rathbone/ Lowell Sanders 9:30am-9pm
Fri, Jul, 15: Messina, Groove Line, John Rathbone/ Lowell Sanders 7am-4pm

So, great run, very port intensive and I have some scheduling problems. First of all……. where do you do elegant night? Well not the last night for sure. But hang on, that’s our only sea day and look at all the other port days, they have late departures except Messina which is where I put it. Now, last week James was the CD and he by the way did an outstanding job and I am very proud of him. However, her told me today that by the time Messina night came along everyone was very tired and that less than half the ship decided to dress elegantly. And I can’t say I blame them, I know after exploring Monte Carlo, Tuscany, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Sorrento, Naples, Capri and Taormina the last thing I would want to do is put on a suit in order to be able to eat dinner. Yes, yes…….I know I am in a massive minority here but it does give me a chance to say one more time that there are times when us telling our guests what they have to wear on their vacation is a bit ridiculous……..and this brilliant seven-day day itinerary is one of them I think.

One thing that is for sure, there are many more families on the seven-day cruise than on the nine- and 12-day. Here is the kid count.

The ship has a completely different feel to it and certainly last night after my welcome aboard show the lounges were very busy indeed, especially the RedFrog Pub. Yep, a much younger crowd and yet the star of the welcome aboard show was 82 year old Pat Patterson from Virginia Beach, Virginia more of which I will tell you later this week.

Last week Costa Cruises celebrated with a brand new fabulous ship. Here she is.


Many congratulations to Costa once again and oh yes, have a look at how the top Costa executives and Carnival Corporation & plc Chairman and CEO Micky Arison arrived at the naming ceremony.


Costa-branded electric bikes……….very James Bond and now we have to come up with a way for Micky and Gerry to arrive at the naming ceremony of the Carnival Breeze. I am thinking they should zip line in……….naked.

Well we are in Monte Carlo today and I should actually go ashore but I need to get caught up. While I was home last week I promised Heidi that I would not just stay on board during port days but get off the ship and take a walk. I also promised her that I would get back to the gym as I haven’t been going for over a year now. But I am trying to go to the gym and that’s something I haven’t done for a very long time. Before this morning the only exercise I had was blinking and therefore I have no aches and pains. But because I promised Heidi, this morning I went to the Carnival Magic’s gym. And as I sit here my back aches, my ankles are swollen and as I was lifting a weight I farted and ruined a good pair of underpants.

So why did I agree to do this then? Well it’s part of what married life is all about and for those who are contemplating marriage let me say this. If, for instance, your wife wants to eat healthier, it means you will have to eat healthier, too. Accept that you are going to have to eat vegetables. This will make her brilliantly happy. When she is happy, your life is much, much easier. And you can always do a KFC drive thru when she’s at yoga. If she thinks you drive too fast, you do. If she insists it would be quicker to stop and ask directions, she’s right. You and I both know she’s wrong, but absolute rights and wrongs are as pointless as asking a Russian guest to stand at the back of the line at the buffet on Lido deck. Perception is everything. Her perception. The sooner you grasp this, the sooner it will be all right.

The same applies to all the marital battle grounds. The remote-control control. Where to hang a picture and whether it’s straight. Whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher and if it’s time for rumpy pumpy…..or not. It never is and even the mere suggestion is a stupid move….. Unless you want the nagging to start. And nobody wants that.

But women are priceless. They’re the ones entrusted with childbirth. They can even do more than one thing at once. So, the secret to a successful marriage has nothing to do with sickness, health, poverty or death. It’s simply to give in early and hope that as a reward your wife will never ever make you go to IKEA.

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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