I Am Supreme

August 5, 2011 -

John Heald

We have a new department head here on the Carnival Magic whom I will introduce to you in a moment. He is the first in this position in the fleet and soon there will be one on every Carnival ship. It’s a super addition to what we do and I know the crew will appreciate it very much. As I said, more about him in a moment but what is it that he does……well he is the new shipboard human resources director.

Now, while I have a clear understanding of what the human resources director thingy will be doing on the Carnival Magic I have to admit I have bugger all understanding of what they do on land in big companies like Carnival, Ford, Bank of America and Victoria’s Secret. Now I am a bit thick so obviously bear that in mind as I describe what it is I think that they do. They are the “people” with beards who ensure that companies adhere to rules relating to diversity, training, and so on and generally try to keep businesses on the right path with their employees. But maybe because I’ve never dealt with HR myself — for the last 25 years I have reported to captains and various operational beards and they handed out the bollockings………I am sure they do much more than that.

I also know that they are the people who if you mess up at work too much and are crap at your job or steal pens, desks and money or are found having rumpy pumpy with Jennifer from accounting on the photo copy machine, will come to your office armed with a cardboard box and do their best Donald Trump impression. They do a very necessary job and do it well but from what I understand about corporate America they are feared and if you’re not up to snuff the sight of them standing in your office door way is as welcome as syphilis.

But now we have a new vice president of human resources at Carnival who is responsible for creating this new on board position. His name is Kevin Richeson whom I will be interviewing for the blog thingy soon. He brings a wealth of experience and a desire to make the crew’s life on board as pleasant and as rewarding as possible. He has told me of his desire to make HR the engine of our brilliant company and to improve our organization’s hiring, appraisal, and development processes.

He will be doing this through onboard HR men and women the first of which as I said is here with us on the Carnival Magic and I thought you would like to meet him.

I entered the world of Carnival as a bar college trainee on October 31, 1997 on the Carnival Ecstasy which sailed out of Miami. In my first contract I worked as a bar waiter and bartender on the Carnival Fascination out of Puerto Rico. I quickly realized my passion for training and felt I found my life’s calling when I joined the on-board training department. Fourteen years later and it’s all still as exciting as ever.

The HR Director’s position is part of an exciting shipboard HR pilot on board the Carnival Magic. I am responsible for the strategic implementation of shipboard HR processes and procedures including; employee relations, employee communication, training & development, coaching & counseling, quality of life, leadership training, as well as providing internal guidance to employees, supervisors and department heads on HR issues.

My role is to provide an accessible nurturing environment to care for the needs of our employees. I am the main contact for the crew care team and I oversee the quality of life areas onboard, including crew activities. In partnership with my excellent shipboard human resources team, the senior officers and our shore side human resources team I direct, lead and manage all functions of the HR department on board. I believe fun, memorable vacations begin and end with each individual team member and being of service to our shipboard team has always been my passion.

Thanks

Jovencio Frazao
HR Director, Carnival Magic

And I wish Joe the best of luck and having an HR director on the ships is something I think the crew will truly appreciate.

Right, let’s crack on shall we with some Q and A

MaryCatherine O’Loughlin asked:
Hi John,

Many times we are asked about how we feel about the cruise members that we sail with, but today I want to tell you about the person that sets it all up. Our personal angel, Tamika Cameron, personal vacation planner Carnival Cruise Lines. Tamika is one of the wonderful people who work behind the scenes and really loves her job. She is the person I go to and go back to and send other people to. She takes the time to email or call just to say hi, just to see how the boys are doing with sports, and just to check and see how my mom is doing. She goes out of her way to make our cruise as special as possible. She is flying out to go on the July 1 cruise on the Carnival Magic. I told her to go say hello to you from us, but if you have the chance – please say hi to her for us. We would like to send her something on the cruise – bottle of wine, champagne – something to say thanks for all she has done for me, mom and the boys. Please let me know how to make her cruise as special as she makes ours. We are leaving for the Valor (b2b) tomorrow (6/26) but I will check my email for your response. I am glad you got to spend time with Kye and Heidi, sounds like you all needed it!!

Thank you again,

MaryCatherine, Bryan & Terence O’Loughlin & MaryPat Ryan.

John says:
Hello Mary Catherine O’Loughlin,

You are absolutely correct. While the crew is often heralded the shoreside team often doesn’t get to take any applause. So it is brilliant to read that you appreciated Tamika’s help so much and I will make sure that she sees your words of praise as will David her boss. I met her when she sailed and found her to be a wonderful person who really loves her job. I am so sorry that I am too late in sending her something and to wish you a great time on the Carnival Valor which is what I hope you had. Thanks again and I send my best wishes to you and all your family.

John

Joystrings (Ted) asked:
John,

I have been told this is the place to get things done. I will be on the Carnival Destiny September 29 with a group of 23. I am a guitar player and singer and have a big following. I want a place to play our Christian rock and folk music to the passengers. We will need two one hour performances blocked in your biggest theatre area and a rehearsal with your sound engineer and lighting folks. I am thinking the best time to do this is at 10 at night so after our dinner. I tried to attach my bio to this bit it won’t let me so email me what you need me to do. We want a 3 boom stand mics with patch ins, 4 wireless microphone headset and in-ear monitors. This will be the best show the boat has, you wait and see.

John says:
Hello Joystrings (Ted),

I am very happy to know that you and your group have decided to sail on the Carnival Destiny with us. All private and public performances by bands not associated with Carnival have to be authorised ahead of time by our Miami office. I have therefore sent your email address and information to the right person who will be in contact soon and will discuss equipment rental, etc., as well as performance times and if we can open them up to the rest of the guests. I can tell you that we have our own busy show schedule and so the main theatre at 10 pm any night will not be available. However, I am sure we can find somewhere to play your great music and I am sure attract some new fans.

Best wishes.

John

Vera Benfield asked:
John,

Just back from our wonderful cruise on Carnival Magic. I enjoyed meeting you and hope you have had a chance to wear your Dallas Mavericks shirt! Thank you for the champagne and strawberries! (We do drink and are not allergic to chocolate). I just want to tell you how wonderful all of our stateroom and dining room staff were, but particularly wanted to mention Pornpon who works in the Ocean Plaza lounge. We visited with her every afternoon/evening when returning to the ship and she treated us like family and took such good care of us. Also, have to tell you how much we enjoyed the morning show with you and Calvyn with a Y. You two are adorable. Keep doing what you are doing, it works for most of us, and ignore the haters! We hope to sail with you again soon! One question, did you quit doing your Bedtime Story? I was looking forward to it and never saw it on the Fun Times.

Vera

John says:
Hello Vera Benfield,

Ssssssshhhh – don’t tell the Carnival Chairman and CEO Micky Arison but I wear my Dallas shirt all the time……..sssssssssssshhhhh. Seriously, a huge thank you for your generosity and it was great to meet you. I will pass on your regards and thanks to the brilliant Pornpon and of course the incomparable Calvyn. I hope you saw the video we made on the blog this week. Most of all I hope you enjoyed your cruise and that we will see you again. Yes, the Bedtime Story has been put on the shelf until we get to Texas when it shall be out again. The schedule here does not allow for it and I really miss doing it. Once again, I hope we see each other soon.

Best wishes.

John

Tim Cummins asked:
John,

My wife and I have done nine cruises thus far and all have been on Carnival. I wanted to share with you that we have booked our 10th cruise on the Carnival Glory in August giving us platinum status. We hope to one day cruise on a ship that you are CD of. Best regards and thanks for everything you do to make Carnival the best.

John says:
Hello Tim Cummins,

Many congratulations and welcome to the Platinum club. I hope you enjoy all the benefits and I thank you most sincerely for your loyalty to Carnival. I am sure you will be cruising any day now and I wish you the most brilliant of times.

Best wishes.

John

George Ellmore asked:
John,

I read on 6-24 the blog from Francis J. saying that the Cruise Critic reviews of the Carnival Triumph have been bad and he is worried that his cruise won’t be a memorable one. My wife and I have sailed on Carnival Triumph six times out of New Orleans (always in the OS class) and we LOVE her. Staff, food, accommodations, entertainment, etc., are as good or better that any ship we have sailed on. Our April 30, 2011 cruise on her was our 73rd cruise. You cannot always believe everything you read. Francis J., you go and I promise you will not be disappointed.

John says:
Hello George Ellmore,

Opinions are just that, opinions based on personal likes, dislikes and expectations. I am then thrilled that your opinion of the Carnival Triumph is so high and as someone who has cruised 73 times, well if anyone has a reason to give an honest and unbiased opinion…..it’s you. Thanks for doing so and thank you for writing these great words about a great ship and her crew. I am sure Francis J who was worried……..no longer is, thanks to you.

Best wishes,

John

Tamisha asked:
John,

I have just lost my job as a dental nurse and am going on the Carnival Sensation cruise ship. I have no money now to do anything so I am hoping to call upon the good graces of Carnival and hope they can help me have a good time with some free stuff for cabin R82 on Rivera Deck. It’s me and my best friend who is going.

Thank you for doing this Carnival.

John says:
Hello Tamisha,

I am so sorry that you lost your job and I hope that you have found another one since posting this last June. There are plenty of things onboard that do not cost extra. All the shows, activities and of course there is 24 water, lemonade and coffee on Lido and most importantly all your food is paid for. The only thing you will need money for on board is tips for the staff and if you want to buy some beverages. I will be sending you a little something to help celebrate this great cruise which I hope you and your friend enjoy so much.

Best wishes and hope that new job has been found.

John

LACruiser asked:
Hi John,

Just got back from a seven-day eastern Caribbean on the Carnival Valor 6/5 – 6/12. Overall I had a very fun time. I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken quite a few cruises in my life thus far so I knew what to expect. Anyway, just thought I’d throw five random suggestions and opinions at you:

ADD SINGLES EVENTS: A guy previously commented to you regarding an on board pub crawl. I wanted to expand on his request. There seemed to be very little organized singles stuff. The main club with the DJ (forgot the name) was fairly empty all week. I’m pretty certain there were a lot of single folks on my boat. I think having a crew member organize and host some fun events in the lounges and the club would break the ice a bit amongst passengers and result in a more energetic and livelier crowd.

GOODBYE PARTY/SHOW – POINTLESS: Not sure if this is true on other boats. The Goodbye Party hosted in the smaller lounge on day six was pretty pointless. I don’t blame the staff. It just seems like ever since Carnival Legends displaced the old school Goodbye show in the main lounge, the crew is putting this thing on out of tradition and obligation. Basically, our CD (Goose: nice guy) says essentially …”Hi everyone… Thanks for coming. Come back soon. Goodbye.” The majority of the folks in the lounge kind of looked at each other with a puzzled… “That’s it?” reaction. Suggest getting rid of this entirely or re-thinking the show.

REPEAT THE TOWEL FOLDING CLASS: I stumbled into this class (literally) at something like 8:30am on day 6. Was AWESOME. Sounded corny. But was awesome. Got suckered into buying the instructional book. Suggest repeating this class a few times throughout the week so more people can enjoy it at different hours. My towel swan would have looked 100 times better had I not been INCREDIBLY hung over from the previous night.

BTW, ACD Squishy is hilarious. Should consider him for CD somewhere sometime.

PHOTOS/FACE-RECOGNITION: I heard a lot of boats and cruise lines utilize some pretty cool tech when it comes to finding your photos via computers/kiosks. Don’t know if the other boats in the Carnival fleet have it. Carnival Valor didn’t. Seems like a really great idea.

MORE 2-6 PM ACTIVITIES: It seemed like the boat’s activities started slowing down from 2-6 pm. My friends and I were often scratching our heads and scrutinizing the Fun Times for things to do from 2-6 pm on sea days. And trust me, I’m very easily amused. It doesn’t take much to entertain me. Ping Pong tourney/free throw shooting contest/competitive Yellow Pages reading. I’m up for anything. Maybe it’s just my own flawed perception that there’s little going on from 2-6 pm. But it might be a good idea to think about small, simple things that can be done in the early-mid afternoon.

Thanks. Great blog. Take care.

LACruiser

 

John says:
Hello LACruiser,

These are excellent points and I thank you for telling me about them. We should do better with our singles activities and I know some ships have a good handle on this but it looks like the Carnival Valor can do better. I will be talking about the dance clubs in a moment actually which I think you will find interesting.

The Farewell Party is indeed in my opinion very weak and I have told the beards my feelings on this. If we are to do this properly then we need multiple locations and to really make it a big event. It’s on my list and I will be discussing again with the beards very soon. But you are right, it’s bland. Very bland.

We do have photo face recognition here and on Carnival Dream as well and we’re exploring the possibility of placing this technology on other ships as well. It certainly makes finding your photos much easier indeed. Thanks for the activity recommendations as well, it seems we have some gaps to fill and I will be passing these onto Goose. It is constructive criticism that will keep Carnival at the top of the cruise line list and I sincerely thank you for writing to me. I will pass this onto the right people.

Best wishes and hope to see you soon.

John


Jeff Johnson asked:

John,

Just got off the Carnival Freedom yesterday morning (6/26) and wanted to drop a line to someone about a couple folks on the ship. We chose the “your time dining” option but LOVED out table staff so much we always had to show up early just to make sure we had them again. I don’t know who I need to pass this on to or if there is another place on the Carnival web site but the Chic Dining room staff of Florence, Wayan and Margin were the BEST ever! I can’t say enough good things about them and want to make sure that somebody in the company knows how “awesome” they are!

Also, wanted to mention that this was my 3rd cruise and by far this was the smoothest debarkation EVER. The ship suffered a power outage late the final night which put us in port an hour late. Everyone was notified of the one-hour delay. We ended up being zone #19 for debarkation and simply hung out in the International Lounge and waited until we were called and the flow could not have been more perfect. I have already read a couple reviews that indicated debarkation was a mess and that perhaps there was a death on board that may have screwed things up for some folks later on. We simply saw what seemed to be a well rehearsed debarkation.

John says:
Hello Jeff Johnson,

Thanks so much for this great review and in fact the debarkation aspect that you praised so much is something that I want to talk about in a moment. The YTD option is becoming more and more popular and I will make sure that the crew that you mentioned receives a copy of this along with their supervisors. They will be thrilled. I am so glad that you had fun and I hope we will see you again very soon.

Best wishes

John

RPG asked:

I agree with Leslie. Your decision to interrupt the 9/11 cruise on Carnival Miracle with the stop at the memorial lighting is wrong and is obviously being done to pander to those Cruise Critic people who seem to have a stranglehold on Carnival and influence what Carnival does. I will not be taking part. I will be at the bar spending my vacation having fun and not wallowing in the past. Before anyone starts firing off insults at me, I am an NYPD officer and have been for 17 years and booked this cruise to get away from it not be thrown right back in again.

John says:
Hello RPG,

Thank you for expressing your views here and thank you for your 17 years of service in the New York Police Department. I am sure that you must have many emotions inside you every time this date comes around and I can truly understand how you must feel. Carnival did not though make this decision because of any one group or organization and certainly Cruise Critic has no hold at all or any influence on how we operate as a cruise line. However, one of their very kind readers did contact us with this idea and it was we felt an excellent one indeed. And so on their behalf we arrange this brief pause for thought and we honestly believe it is the right thing to do. I want to wish you the most brilliant cruise and I hope that you are able to relax and rejuvenate from the stresses of the job you do.

Best wishes.

John

Joyce from Lakeland, Florida asked:

I am PLATINUM and have 12 cruises with Carnival in seven years of cruising!!!!!! I am not happy that I have to attend the same cocktail reception as someone who has sailed two times. I have written to Carnival about this and have gotten zero reply. I will be joining you on Carnival Magic on August 26.

John says:

Hello Joyce from Lakeland, Florida,

Thanks for writing and there will be changes coming at the start of next year to the loyalty program. I hope until then that you continue to enjoy the Past Guest party and I am sure that when you see the new program we have your loyalty that we are honoured you have shown so far will continue. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and of course I will see you soon.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today and thank you for all the great comments this week.

So here I sit, in the obligatory underpants. It’s 6:10am and this is the morning that I always feel really old. I closed my Facebook page down at just before midnight having done the new Carnival Legends show for the first time earlier and then by the time I had showered, I was in bed by 12:30 am. I didn’t sleep much, I always worry when Heidi and Kye are flying and then when I did fall asleep and was in the middle of a luscious dream about two gorgeous Latvian twins called Honor and Offa who were doing naughty things to me with a feather ……. the bastard blackberry alarm woke me up giving me the good news that it was 5:30 am and time for debarkation to start.

We start with our self assist guests straight away and then the first numbers are called relating to the luggage tags placed outside of cabin doors. Today we finished the 12-day cruise and we had 101 luggage cages of luggage which means approx 2,200 took the self assist option. Anyway, the reason I am writing about this is because on two ships in the Carnival fleet we have been experimenting with something called “silent debarkation.” Now this doesn’t mean that U.S. Customs & Border Protection now insist that guests must not talk when they leave ……….. nope …… the silent bit refers to me……as in the cruise directors.

Usually the cruise director will get on the PA system as early as 7 am, earlier if you are in Europe like me and make announcements. Now let’s face it people. You are not in the best of moods are you on debarkation morning. You have to fly which means facing the joyless security check as you get a bollocking for having a bottle of Head & Shoulders in your carry-on. You will then be searched by people with iron-on badges who are so busy checking you don’t have any conditioner or hair gel as well that they will miss the chap with wires sticking out of his underpants. You are in a mood because after the brilliant and fun service that you had on the ship from Jo Jo your waiter and Ketut your cabin steward you know that once on board the plane you will be met with a growl from the premenstrual flight attendant whom if you attempt to joke with or look at the wrong way will have you handcuffed and dragged off the plane. You are in a mood because for the last seven days you have stretched out in a hammock on Serenity deck and enjoyed the luxury of the Carnival Comfort Bed and now have to look forward to sitting in seat 45c which would be a tight fit for an anorexic hamster. And of course the man next to you will be huge, smell like a Frenchman’s jockstrap and want to be your best friend.

You are in a mood because you have to go back to work on Monday and you are in a mood because instead of the prime rib and Warm Chocolate Melting Cake Jo Jo served you in the dining room you have nothing to look forward to but your wife’s cooking which you find as appetizing as eating deep fried baboon testicles and it won’t be served by a friendly smiling Filipino waiter but by your wife who is angry at you for peeing on the toilet seat and not having Ketut there to wipe away the stain.

So you are in a stinking mood and what happens at 7 am?

Bing Bong “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, what a beautiful day it is here in Miami. This is your Cruise Director Wee Todd Goosetex here and it’s time to wake up, rise and shine and make your way off the ship. Don’t forget your customs card and let’s wish Bob from cabin 2357 a very happy birthday. We look forward to seeing you again on another Fun Ship cruise. Woohoo.”

Wohoo, my arse.

Yep, I can well imagine that hearing a CD’s bright and cheery announcement at 7 am when you don’t want to get up and go home and when because you had a few too many ThirstyFrog Reds last night your head feels like Charlie Sheen is living in it may get on some guests nerves and even tempt a few to scream, “SHUT UP YOU CHEERY BASTARD.”

I am always careful not to sound too happy when I do early morning announcements and try to be more gentle and soothing and trust me, it’s not easy to be gentle and soothing that early in the morning especially when you just caught sight of yourself in the mirror……..me and underpants and soothing do not go together.

Anyway, I have digressed yet again and so let’s go back to the point of this ramble of mine and that’s silent debarkation. This is where some ships will simply provide the guests with a letter and the zone tags and the time that they will and must get off the ship. And that’s it. There are no announcements save the one for the last and final call. Guests know what time they have to get off the ship but won’t be prompted or reminded by the CD. And reports are that it is working very well indeed with most guests adhering to the instructions they are given. Now there are some guests who ignore the time completely which can cause some delays but for the most part its working and I think this is a good thing and if it continues to work then you can expect to see it on other ships soon.

OK, let’s see who is sailing with us this week shall we on our 9 day cruise.

GUESTS 4,537

(click to zoom)

Oh joy. 338 Russians. Plus we have 531 British as well.

And here are the kids.

And this is where they are all going:

 

And, of course, amongst the 4,537 guests are Heidi and Kye. I cannot wait to see them and as usual there is the last minute rush to get the cabin tidy and Ketut is using one of those snake catching sticks on a pair of my underpants as we speak.

Well last night we opened the new Carnival Legends show and it was a huge success with the new acts of Bruce Springsteen, Cher, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Shania Twain and Gloria Gaynor all going down a storm. One of the most popular additions was the Neil Diamond singing Sweet Caroline……..na na na. The audience loved this and all started singing along which was great.

We also had the new “Dancing with the Cast” section. This was also a huge hit as we had chosen three guests to learn a dance number with our Carnival Magic dancers. Two ladies learned the Tango and the Samba while one man learned…..ummmm……..can’t remember the name of the other one but they were all brilliant. The costumes we give them add to the flair of their performance.

There is also a special performance by one of the entertainment staff which replaces the Sonny and Cher number they have been doing. It is very, very funny and I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you too much more about that.

Then there is me. Yep me and my two girls……….here we are………………as The Supremes.

As you can see, the three dresses we wear is actually one big sodding dress and I fell over and so did the girls and the audience laughed out loud.

All cruise long I try sophisticated humour and improvised comedy. I lay in bed at night trying to think of new things to say and do that will have the Carnival Magic’s international audience laughing.

But at the end of the day it’s a waste of time. Simply put a fat man in a tight sparkly dress and drape a feather boa over him and hey presto……….the audience are in hysterics.

Sometimes…………there just isn’t enough vomit in the world.

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.