HERE COME THE SMOKING COMMENTS

July 20, 2011 -

John Heald

With everything that has been going on since I have returned from my week at home, I haven’t had time to tell you about the cats. Now for new readers, who may not know what I am talking about, may I suggest you read this to find out more.

Well you were all really helpful because when I got home I went to our local garden centre. From there I bought six plants as recommended by some of you. I was lucky, apparently. A delivery had just come in and they always sell out instantly. Cats find their stench so disgusting, it’s almost painful to them, the bearded vegetable loving garden center man said. Good I thought, because the smell of their turds doesn’t exactly make me break out into a rendition of “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” when I open my front door. And what do you know? When I planted them, there seemed to be an immediate pussy exodus. So thanks to all of you for your help. Heidi still wants a dog though………bugger.

Anyway, after I bought the Stinkus Buggerofcatius thingies, I needed to plant them. Ummmmm……………OK. So I called a gardener. Yes, yes I know, I am a lazy sod and employing the services of a gardener makes me sound very posh but really it isn’t.

His name is Stuart. He is a wonderful man, charming and kind and a brilliant gardener despite being a retired bank manager and a vegetabalist. After spending years behind a desk, he now spends his time stroking his beard and doing other people’s gardens/mine included. Our garden doesn’t need much because it’s basically grass and a few plant thingies. But I look at it like this. Plants and stuff seemed to survive all right for hundreds of years before we started messing about with sit on lawn mowers and leaf blowers and stupid water features of cherubs having a piss. This maybe a British thing but people’s gardens are something families spend a fortune on and some where I live are primped and trimmed like a Latvian Lap Dancer.

Heidi is the problem though. She’s Dutch and that means she loves plants and flowers and bulbs and clogs and planting bulbs in clogs. Therefore, she would be furious if I let the sun flowers grow above Gerry Cahill height. Which is why we pay Stuart to take care of all that. But whenever I tell people this, they react as if I’ve said that I use the shower curtain to wipe my arse on. Oh, God, they cry! That’s awful. You’re missing out on a sense of achievement, fresh air, soil running through your fingers. Look, the only thing running through your fingers in my garden would be a mountain of cat turds. So getting someone else to vomit in the rose bushes is money well sodding spent. Stuart comes every two weeks stays two hours, everything looks pretty and we give him £10 an hour ($18) which is a small price to pay, I think. I come home from a long hard contract on the ship and the last thing I want to do is spend time on my knees in the garden. I tried that years ago and found it as therapeutic as having my testicles placed in a vice. I’ve got nothing against nature, I’d just rather watch TV. Yes, gardens are lovely. But never more so than when you’re lying back with a Diet Coke watching someone else trim your bush.

Anyway, so far Heidi reports the cats have stayed away and are now probably crapping on some other unfortunate bugger’s doorstep and thanks to all of you for your help with this. You can expect a blog from Heidi soon, no doubt asking for your advice on how to make me remember to put the toilet seat up. Is there a plant for that as well?

Time for today’s Q and A – here we go

Brandon asked:
John,

First let me start by saying I love reading our blog and loved having you as our cruise director on my wife and my honeymoon cruise on the Carnival Conquest in April of last year.

I wanted to ask you about Carnival’s beverage policy. Specifically, why 18 year olds are not allowed to drink on board? They can party it up and drink all they want when at port but the second they walk back across that gangway they are treated like a kid again.

While I am 25 years old and this has no direct effect on me, I was just curious why Carnival doesn’t have a rule similar to those of other cruise lines where 18 and ups can drink beer and wine only. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Brandon Campbell

John says:
Hello Brandon Campbell,

Thanks for the kind words and I hope you have some wonderful memories of your honeymoon cruise. The legal drinking age in most American states is 21 and Carnival feels that we need to adhere to this law as well. Now, I had no idea that other cruise lines had an 18 year old drinking age limit but, responsibly, we feel that 21 is the right age. I hope we cruise again very soon.

Best wishes to you both.

John

John Chapter 1 asked:
John,

I`m booked for my first cruise with your company and me and my wife and our 2 children will be on the Dream (cabin number is ****) on July 30. I was told I should come here to get a PRIVATE table not with anyone else because we follow strict religious protocols before and during meals including the singing of grace and personal testimony during the meal. I also need the waiters to understand NOT to approach the table and disturb us during this important time. I am sure this may seem a strange request to you but to us it is of high importance. We would also prefer a female waiter.

John says:
Hello John Chapter 1,

Thank you for getting in touch and I have asked the maitre d’ to make sure that you get a private table as requested. I cannot promise that we can provide a female server as rotations and service sections are pretty much set but we will indeed try our best. I wish you all a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes,

John

Barbara Thomas asked:
John,

We just returned on June 12 from the Carnival Magic. What a marvelous vacation it was. Thank you for the kind wishes for my group and the thoughtful gifts. I wanted to take a moment to tell you and the beards about our wonderful dining room staff. First, Ken was the BEST maitre d’ I have sailed with, not just on my 10 cruises with Carnival, but on any cruises. Secondly, our team of Edis, Srdjan, and Gerado were excellent. Their attention to detail, pleasurable demeanor and unending efforts to ensure our dining experience was enjoyable went above and beyond our expectations. I wanted to take a moment to let you know that they are to be commended on a job well done!!!

John says:
Hello Barbara Thomas,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write this and I know those mentioned will be thrilled. Ken is remarkable and the experience he gives our guests in the dining room is simply the best. I hope you had a wonderful time and hope you do so again with us soon.

Best wishes,

John

Suze asked:
Good Evening John!

First, I would like to thank you for your blog. I’ve subscribed for a few weeks and get a huge laugh out of it every time. I know everyone is discussing the smoking issue, but I’ve been wanting to ask this question, and I do so with some trepidation!!

We have sailed on the Pride three times, and are sailing again this August and again in January ’12. (We love the ship!!)

I am absolutely crazy about one of the desserts the chef makes for the buffet. It’s called “Indian Milk”. I have looked online to try to find the recipe to no avail.

I was wondering if the chef would be willing to share the recipe, as I am a hobby cook. Please use your judgement before approaching the chef, because some of them will only share a recipe after an agreement has been made that they can kill the recipient. Said recipient does not wish to be part of the soup of the day, which is why I am tip-toeing around asking for this!

Thank you so much for whatever assistance you can offer. If you think it’s a very very bad idea, then let’s drop the subject as I don’t want to put you in harm’s way either! No one wants to be confronted by an angry chef holding a cleaver!!

Thank you again!!

Suze!

John says:
Hello Suze,

I am so glad that you have found the blog and I hope it gives you much enjoyment and some useful information. I loved the way you asked for the recipe and please don’t worry as our chefs are more than happy to share. A few weeks ago, I actually published this as others were asking and here is the link to that blog. Just click on that and you will find it and I hope you enjoy cooking it at home. Please let me know if there is anything else you need and welcome to the blog thingy.

Best wishes,

John

Wendy Boroski asked:
Hi John,

We just returned from our Glory cruise on 06/05/11 and loved it. I just wanted to be sure that our waitstaff in the Golden dining room for YTD gets a nod. Our Team was Sujantana, Sudika and Ketut. They were absolutely wonderful and went out of their way in making us feel welcome. Hope you can pass this on to the powers that be.

Thanks,

Wendy

John says:
Hello Wendy Boroski,

That’s two fantastic reviews for dining staff in today’s blog and that’s great to read. I know that when those mentioned see what you have written that, they will be so happy and thank you therefore for taking the time to do so. Thanks once again and hope we see you again soon.

Best wishes,

John

Marie asked:
Hi John!

This is my second time writing to you, so hopefully my question will be answered. If not, well I’ll keep trying up until the day I cruise :).
For starters, I just want to point out that although I enjoy reading your blog, I get so angry and irritated at reading some of the most pathetic, unappreciative, RUDE comments from people demanding they get this or that, and then they are even more rude to you if they don’t get what they want. I just hope this is published so people realize how RUDE and self centered they can truly be, and to work on their attitude. The world isn’t made up with a bunch of “give-me’s.”

Anyways, I just wanted to get that off my chest.

My question is that I read somewhere on a board or whatnot that the cruise sometimes does an adult themed treasure hunt or something like that. Is this true? If so, it sounds like so much fun. Will this be ship wide? My BF and I sail on the Dream 8/20. Will this be offered on this sailing? Hope so! :). And John on behalf of everyone (even the ungrateful ones) Thank you for what you do!

John says:
Hello Marie,

I am so sorry I missed your question the first time around and yes, we do indeed do on some ships an event called In The Bag or as some call it Quest which I think we stole from RCI……oops. Anyway, this is a brilliantly fun event that involves bringing a bag of everyday ” stuff” to the lounge and well…………you will see from there. I hope you get to experience this when you are on your Carnival Dream. I had a quick look at their Capers …..bugger……Fun Times and they do that there. Thanks so much for being so kind and thoughtful and if you need anything before you cruise, please do let me know.

Best wishes to you and your BF (is that best friend or boy friend )?

John

Chantal Boucher asked:
Hi John,

I’m not here to debate on who’s right and who’s wrong, I would just like to convey how the new smoking policy has affected my view of Carnival and how it makes me feel as smoker (and a very courteous one at that). And to do this, I’d like to tell you a little story: I once left everything behind for a country (which shall remain nameless, as it would probably just divert the discussion), far, far away, to study language for a year. To my surprise, after a few days, I discovered that the people of this country didn’t like foreigners, subjecting me and my fellow students to everyday xenophobia and to different extents, racism. Now, coming from a very liberal and multicultural society, it was very hard for me to comprehend their reactions towards us. After a few months (4, in fact), I had to come to the realization that “they didn’t want us – the foreigners – here”. Mind you, I was definitely not the only foreigner feeling this way. I figured that if I was to feel unwelcomed for the rest of my stay, there was no reason for me to remain and spend all my money there. From that point, I booked the next flight out and was finally home after 30 hours of traveling.

This is exactly how Carnival’s (note here I didn’t use the term
“your”) new smoking policy makes me feel: unwelcomed. If I am to be treated as a second class individual, if while being on vacation I need to constantly fear I will offend someone because I light one in a permitted area, why should I continue to give Carnival my business?

You (in the general sense, not you, you 😉 can try and sugar coat this with a gazillion marketing spins, the fact and the matter remains the same: I am no longer welcome to partake in the fun.

I have a cruise booked on the Miracle next August. I will not cancel because it’s already paid in full and because I promised my mother I would take her and I would never want to let her down. But it will be my last. There are many other options besides cruising to go and discover the world, where people are more than happy to see you. This is where I will be going.

Oh and by the way, I’m French… Canadian. 😉

John says:
Hello Chantal Boucher,

First of all, let me be very clear when I say opinions are most welcome here. They may not be ones we all agree with but they are welcome and without opinions and a good debate, the world would be an utterly boring place to live…………like France. Seriously, though, I hope that I didn’t come across as someone who was putting a “spin” on this. As a frequent (well, I used to be) cigar smoker myself, it would have been ridiculous for me not to have said that I was disappointed by the loss of the cigar bars. But this is the way of the world, isn’t it? Wherever you go, on land or at sea, the smoking ban is there and is growing each and every day. Some say that is merely part of a larger process which sees schools ban kids from running about in the school yard in case they hurt themselves. Watch your step, don’t put salt on your food, mind your head, high visibility jackets everywhere. And of course, when scientists tell us that something is potentially harmful, the lawyers prick up their ears and pretty soon the thing, whatever it is, is banned and will eventually bugger off never to be seen again. It’s weird to see smokers standing outside office buildings, huddled in groups like bad dogs being forced to smoke outside and pretty much that privilege will be gone as well. This will force many smokers to give up which some say is a brilliant thing. But hold on, why stop at smoking? I get thoroughly pissed off when I step on a piece of discarded chewing gum. So let’s ban chewing gum in public and on the ships.

But then there is the other side. Going to the Internet cafe on the Destiny, Conquest and Splendor class ships will be a lot more pleasant, and guests won’t have to wash cigarette smoke out of their clothes and hair. Asthma sufferers will finally be able to check their e-mails without fear of an attack. It would have been easy for Carnival to have banned smoking indoors altogether. But they didn’t because they realise that unlike most hotels and restaurants and resorts, that smokers still have rights too. That’s why there is on every ship a designated indoor smoking lounge with either live music or a DJ, bar service and entertainment. Plus, each ship will be upgrading their outside smoking areas as well to make it as comfortable as possible, just as we have here on the Carnival Magic.

Your story was intriguing and I am sorry that you had to endure that awful welcome in the country that you visited. However, to compare that with the warm, friendly welcome you will receive on the Carnival Miracle is simply not true. The crew will serve you and entertain you and welcome you in the friendliest and fun way as they always have done. And when you have finished a great meal and seen a great show, you can go to the lounge on Promenade deck forward and listen and dance to the four piece band and enjoy a well earned cigarette. And if you have a balcony, you can smoke there as you wish as well. I know change is hard, I am no longer allowed to smoke in guest areas and I hate it, I hate it with a passion and haven’t had a cigar since this new law came into effect. No spin here, just facts, Chantal, and the promise that you and all smokers and non smokers are welcome on our ships. Have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes,

John

C.H.H. asked:
John,

Off I go to RCCL where I won’t be treated like I have HIV because I smoke. You make me angry enough to want to reach down my computer and punch that big ugly fat face Mr. Ambassador. You say you represent us cruisers but then you announce this smoking ban on your ships so thanks for nothing and adiós cabeza mierda

John says:
Hello C.H.H.,

I totally understand how feelings are running high about smoking and I understand also that as the Brand Ambassador for Carnival, I am here to take the punches…………literally, if you had your way. I hope that this was written in the heat of the moment and that you have been able to calm down and see that smoking is allowed still on every ship in an indoor location. I don’t know what RCI’s smoking rules are but I would imagine that the entire industry for the most part is the same. Please have a think and if punching me in the face makes you feel better and allows you to remember that you can smoke and that Carnival still offers the best value for money cruise vacation in the world ………then I would let you do it. As long as I can kick you in the bollocks afterwards…………….kidding. I am off now to ask someone what adiós cabeza mierda means. Although I doubt it’s ” Goodbye John, I will miss your gorgeous bottom.”

Best wishes and hope we see you again soon……….I really do.

John

Mary Russo asked:
Hello John,

My father gave up smoking at 40, and then worked for 20 years with heavy smokers. Every day his silver hair was yellow when he came home but he couldn’t wash the nicotine out of his lungs. He had a lung removed when he was 70. My husband is asthmatic and I am allergic to cigarette smoke. Let smokers visit a lung cancer ward. Why didn’t Carnival ban smoking completely? Smokers are vermin!

John says:
Hello Mary Russo,

I think what we have done is something that allows non smokers to be in most areas of the ship without having to worry about being around smokers and, come December, you won’t have to worry about smelling smoke inside the cabins. I was sorry to read about your father and I send you and all your family my best wishes and thanks for taking the time to write.

Best wishes to all.

John

Gregg Ossel asked:
John,

Never again will I cruise on a ship out from Texas. The staff were fun and courteous but the Texan passengers were jerks. They were noisy and rude and travel in packs and dress like something out of Green Acres and Petticoat Junction. My question is about smoking and the ban you have made recently. Do you know understand that you just lost thousands of customers and I am one of them.

John says:
Hello Gregg Ossel,

The smoking policy changes have I know ruffled many feathers and we all knew that this would happen. All I can do is repeat myself and say that you as a guest still have smoking options both indoor and outdoor and both in comfortable and fun surroundings. I truly hope you will take the time to really consider this before you decide to vacation elsewhere. I do understand how you feel about the smoking but as for the Texan thing, well that I simply cannot agree with. I had a brilliant four months on the Carnival Conquest and can’t wait for the Carnival Magic to sail from there. I hope we see you again on one of our ships. I am off to ask Uncle Google what Petticoat Junction and Green Acres are.

Best wishes,

John

That’s all for today………………….I have had a few comments about this Texan thing in the past months. Help a Brit out here, do some other states simply hate Texas and if so……………why?

One of the surprises for guests sailing on their Carnival Magic is Stromboli, the volcanic island. On a good day, Stromboli erupts every 15 minutes, spewing streams of glowing lava. At night the mountain becomes an inferno of sparks, smoke and occasional rumblings and the captain gets us unbelievably close. Some nights it’s as dormant as a Eunuch’s thingy and some night’s it’s Tiger Woods. Last night………..it was Tiger Woods as you will see here through the lens of the wonderful Mr. Radu Ursu.

stromboli volcano

stromboli volcano

stromboli volcano

It was a wonderful sight which the guests were of course thrilled about. Just in case you didn’t know, I have the ship’s web cam turned and pointed at the island during our passage so you can see in some part what we do.

So, it’s 2:05pm and I just got back from lunch on Lido Deck. Most of the guests are ashore in Naples and the surrounding area and I fancied a bit of Indian Tandoor so accompanied by the incomparable Calvyn, I went for a spot of lunch as today was my favourite………..buttered chicken or Tika Masala as we call it in the capital of India………..London.

Anyway, the Carnival Magic has some wonderful new outside seating areas on Lido Deck 10 aft and with the sun out, it was nice to get some fresh air. So, there I was munching on my curry and, obviously, guests recognised me. Some waved, some ignored me, some came over to say “hello” and say what a great time they were having – and one came over and was very lucky to leave without a pomperdom hanging from his bottom.

OK, I have said this before and I expect and enjoy it. Most guests though will say “excuse me” or “sorry to bother” …………not this one. He walked over and even though I had just taken a big mouthful of food, he said “Why don’t you have a card room?” As he said this, he sat down in the empty chair at our table and started talking about how Princess and Celebrity and how they had proper card rooms and bridge instructors and how dreadful the shows were and the live music. Swallowing the piece of buttered chicken and nearly choking as I did so, I apologised and explained that we did not have one but that we had the conference room which was set up with many tables suitable for card players. He then went onto spend the next 15 minutes telling me other ways that Carnival could improve by the end of which my now cold plate of congealed curry had all the appeal of Yak poo on toast. And then, suddenly, he looked at his watch and without a word he simply stood up………………and buggered off. Yes, it’s my job to listen to people and to help them and I do this as often as I can. But I think it takes a special kind of person to just sit down with no invitation or apology of interrupting a meal. It’s certainly something I would never do.

Also sailing with us this week is a chap called Benny. Benny has sailed many times before and travels with his “companion” who is here to look after him, but history tells me that I will be doing most of the looking after. Benny has what I think is called “special needs ” although these days I never quite know if this is the politically correct way of saying this.

He is in his late fifties and is a really lovely man but does tend to get very excited and I need to keep a close watch on him. You see, he likes to touch people……….not in a sinister way but more as a compliment. Now, while some guests find this ok and can handle the situation, many find it very uncomfortable. Benny also loves to take photos and always has his camera with him and takes photos of absolutely everyone.

However, there is one big concern and that is he likes to walk onto the stage and will do so during the shows and tried to do so during the Destination Unknown magic show. I have spoken to his “companion” who honestly doesn’t seem to….well……..care. And so I now have a staff member watch him at the shows ready to make sure he is gently asked to sit down rather than let him interrupt the show. Benny is a great guy, loves wearing bright colours and loves life but we have already had a few negative comments about him from other guests and I have spoken to some and apologized.

But overall, the cruise is going well despite all I have said. There are still some guests who are upset about the itinerary change and one man hates me…………simply hates me. This is the chap who I spoke about yesterday who had booked a private tour in Rome and when he tried to re-arrange it for the new arrival day was told they couldn’t help him and wanted to charge him $275 cancelation fee. I have spent some time with him as has Sabrina the guest services supervisor but he refuses to understand that we are not responsible to pay this amount. Obviously, I have to be understanding and caring and I do honestly care, but care is not something this tour operator has and if the legal beards allowed me I would print their name here. I was speaking to PA 007 who sends me so much of the early breaking news I post on Facebook. He/she said what I could not……………… “Please book your excursions through us and save yourself and us all this aggravation. It’s your vacation, you should be enjoying it and let us take care of all this stuff. The Internet shorex operators don’t give a damn about you.” And he or she is right…………why give yourself all this hassle. Things happen, things change and we are responsible and will always help you if the arrangements have been made through us. As it stands now, this man is out of pocket and he and his family still have nothing planned for Rome.

Well today I start rehearsing for the new Carnival Legends show and I am dreading it. I can’t tell you much about what I will be doing except it involves dancing………..yep……….me and dancing, two words that have as much right to go together as French and attack, Oprah Winfrey and pole dancing and John Heald and G string.

Men can’t dance. Their place is at the side of the dance floor getting drunk and laughing at the men who are trying to dance. However, thanks to programs like Dancing with the Stars, this is no longer acceptable and we will now incorporate this into our new Legends show. No real man should ever dance, however, there are three exceptions to this rule. Michael Jackson, John Travolta and Patrick Swayze. These are the only men on the entire planet ever to look brilliant on a dance floor. No man should be proud of knowing the difference between the Foxtrot and the Waltz unless you are a little bit of a Calvyn. Have you ever noticed though that the Simon Cowell of dance that is Len Goodman never actually dances himself? He criticizes other chaps prancing around in leotards and sparkly shirts but never gets up off his arse and shows them how it should be done, the lazy bastard.

Dancing is one of many things men should never do. Another is never attempt to go inside your wife’s purse. If Heidi asks me to get something from her purse, my face contorts as if she has asked me to put my hand in one of the many piles of cat shit found in my garden and then lick my fingers. I am always scared that my hand will get trapped in there in the mouth of one of those Venus Trap flower thingies and I will be slowly pulled in where my genitals will be removed by a Judge Judy look-a-like.

So I am off to Legends rehearsal and as much as I complain, it is what I am expected to do and I have to set an example for my colleagues as this new show will eventually go fleetwide. Some of the metro sexual cruise directors are going to love this and the outrageous costume they have to wear. I just tried on my “costume ” for the first time and honestly, I’ve seen gangrenous wounds that look better! Honestly……..I would rather have Stevie Wonder give me a vasectomy using only a tooth pick while a C.H.H. punches my fat ugly face. I look as sexy as a camel with explosive diarrhea.

Carnival Legends debuts here on the Carnival Magic on August 4th……………..bring a sick bag.

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.